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Some revisions of socialist thought in the Labour Party, 1951-1961.

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posted on 19.11.2015, 08:56 by G. T. (George Thomas) Popham
The primary objects of this thesis are to distinguish revisions made in British socialist thought between 1951 - 1961, and to explain why they occurred. The variety of socialist thought, different experiences and temperaments amongst revisionists, and the structure of the Labour Party, make the formulation of socialist theory difficult. But the events of the period induced socialists to review aspects of socialist thought. (Chapters 1 and 2). Doubts concerning socialist economic theories of exploitation and unearned income are noted in Chapter 3. But there are difficulties involved in the attempts of some revisionists to rest the case for socialism mainly on ideas of equality and liberty. Other revisionists revived the concept of "alienation" as a justification of common ownership, and sought a new form of "humanism". (Chapter 4). Some revisionists attempted to reinterpret the moaning of "revolution", seeking to make extra-parliamentary activity more respectable. (Chapter 5). Different opinions wore expressed about contemporary British society. Arguments turned mainly on new meanings attached to the word "capitalism" (Chapter 6). The problems of achieving a democratic transition to socialism, in an affluent society, revealed different views about the role of the Labour Party in Opposition. (Chapter 7). Some revisionists stressed the doctrine of the "diminished importance of ownership". This doctrine was associated with the desire of all revisionists to avoid a transition to a managerial society. (Chapters 8 and 9). Philosophical scepticism regarding the value of political speculation, diversity of opinion, and the complex nature of the subject matter, restricted the impact of revisionist ideas. There was a development of an earlier trend towards a sociological, rather than an economic, approach to socialism; a change of attitude towards ownership; doubts about the nature of capitalism; and a desire to disassociate socialism from any form of managerialism. (Chapter 10).


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Politics and International Relations

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University of Leicester

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