Power in Trade Unions: A Study of Their Organization in Great Britain

Power in Trade Unions: A Study of Their Organization in Great Britain

Power in Trade Unions: A Study of Their Organization in Great Britain

Power in Trade Unions: A Study of Their Organization in Great Britain

Excerpt

Before the First World War it was generally believed in Western democracies that political democracy was the normal form of development for civilized countries. Anomalies did exist in certain countries but it was considered that it would only be a matter of time before they would be corrected. In Britain women did not have the right to vote, but already women had realized that this was a serious anomaly and were struggling to remove it. Though Germany was not conforming to type there were clear signs that it would eventually do so. Even in Russia the Mensheviks were gaining ground at the expense of the Czar and nepotism. The forces of government by the people accelerated by the French Revolution and applied by the new American Republic were permeating the remaining feudal barriers of the West.

The 1914-19 war, however, released other forces of unbelievable momentum and changed the whole temper of world political development. First in Italy, then in Germany, the foundations of political democracy were slowly but surely shaken by the formation of totalitarian forms of government; slowly until the 1930s, then more quickly and more vigorously. That the changes occurred in countries where political democracy was not firmly established was of some consolation, but it was not sufficient to alleviate the anguish felt by freedom-loving people. The ease and apparent complacency with which peoples rejected political democracy for totalitarianism shook the confidence of many democrats. They became aware that theirs was no natural form of government which would lead to the millennium. Democrats were compelled to build bulwarks against this new, powerful and distasteful alternative, and it became necessary for people entrusted with the defence of political democracy to believe in it fervently. A faith had to be evoked from them, and under conditions of trade depression and mass unemployment it had to be strong enough to displace reason. There was only one way in which this could be done. Democracy had to become a religion.

A faith was inspired and it withstood the impact of the Second World War--but not without developing one of the characteristics of a religion. In the minds of some of the advocates of political . . .

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