Alternatives to State-Socialism in Britain: Other Worlds of Labour in the Twentieth Century

Spring 2018

In recent years, many on the left of Labour have called for the party to roll back what they see as New Labour’s accommodation with the legacy of Thatcherism. In policy terms – not least in the party’s highly successful 2017 manifesto – this has generally centred on reasserting the primacy of the state, to counter the sharper edges of an increasingly marketised society. However, the Corbyn-led Labour Party also aspires to be a social movement, emphasising decentralization, localism, grassroots campaigning and civil society.

‘Blue Labour’ thinkers, meanwhile, continue to advance an alternative viewpoint, arguing that the statism of not only Corbynism but also Blairism is representative of longer deficiencies in left thought. For example, in Maurice Glasman’s account, the post-1945 settlement’s emphasis on collective bargaining between the state and trade unions eroded older mutualist traditions of self-help. Civil society, it is held, holds the key to re-engaging with communities forgotten by the rarefied, technocratic modern left.

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Renewal: a journal of social democracy, Volume 26 No 1