The Future of Socialism

The Future of Socialism

The Future of Socialism

The Future of Socialism

Excerpt

Perhaps I should first apologise for the length of this book, at a time when many on the Left are asking for a terse, simple restatement of socialist aims.

It is long because I became increasingly dissatisfied with the brief essays which have been almost the sole response so far to the reiterated demands for 'new thinking' about socialism. It has become a truism to say that the Labour Party has entered on a new historical phase, now that so much of its pre-war programme is an accomplished fact. But the problems of adjustment to this new phase are, I believe, too subtle to be resolved in easy or summary fashion.

Any work which sets out to answer the question, 'what is socialism now about?', must do two things: it must analyse the detailed changes since 1939, and reinterpret socialism in the light of them; and it must outline the practical policies to which this reinterpretation seems to point. Brief essays must inevitably omit one or other of these aspects. Thus we have either the detailed discussion of one particular topic, but unrelated to any wider framework of socialist thinking; or the short, general essay on 'the meaning of socialism', of which each abbreviated section inevitably concludes by saying that 'no doubt the practical policy will be hard to apply; but if we are resolute, the difficulties should not prove insurmountable'. Much credit is due to the authors of both types of essay; but neither can be wholly satisfactory.

Yet anyone rash enough to attempt both tasks, and to cover the entire field of domestic socialist policy, at once comes up against the difficulty that he cannot possibly have the necessary expert knowledge. Apart from having been in Parliament for five years, my only limited claim to expertise is as an economist. But a book on socialism to-day must also embrace political theory, sociology, industrial psychology, history, and even semantics; it must discuss not only fiscal problems, but education, the social . . .

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