Laski, Harold Joseph

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Laski, Harold Joseph

Harold Joseph Laski (lăs´kē), 1893–1950, British political scientist, economist, author, and lecturer. A graduate of New College, Oxford, he taught at McGill Univ. (1914–16) and Harvard (1916–20). In 1920 he joined the faculty of the London School of Economics and in 1926 became professor of political science there, a position he held for the rest of his life. A member (1922–36) of the executive committee of the Fabian Society, Laski became a member of the Labour party executive committee in 1936 and was chairman of the party in 1945–46. He also held various official and semiofficial government posts. However, he is best known for his books on political science and for his speeches in Britain and the United States on political, social, and economic trends. Politically, Laski moved from an early belief in antistatist pluralism to the conviction that the state had to take the lead in socialist reform. His books include Studies in the Problem of Sovereignty (1917), Authority in the Modern State (1919), Political Thought in England from Locke to Bentham (1920), Karl Marx (1921), Communism (1927), Democracy in Crisis (1933), The American Presidency (1940), Faith, Reason, and Civilisation (1944), The American Democracy (1948), and Liberty in the Modern State (rev. ed. 1948).

See Holmes-Laski Letters (2 vol.,1953); biography by K. Martin (1953); H. Deane, The Political Ideas of Harold Laski (1955, repr. 1972).

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