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Parliamentary Socialism: A Study in the Politics of Labour [Paperback]

Ralph Miliband
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 April 2009
Reflecting on the Labor government of Harold Wilson between 1964 and 1970, this concise analysis chronicles the Labor Party from its early days up to the early 1960s, including a 1972 postscript. Demonstrating how empirical and flexible the Labor Party has been about certain issues, this reference also touches on how it is one of the most dogmatic political parties in regards to the parliamentary system. Commenting on why its leaders have always made devotion to this system their fixed point of reference, this political overview proves that this has always been the conditioning factor of their political behavior, as they consistently reject any kind of political action which has fallen outside the framework and conventions of Parliament. Stating that there is no distinction to be made between Labor’s political and industrial leaders, this study illustrates the party as it is now and has always been—one of modest social reform in a capitalist system within whose confines it is ever more firmly and by now irrevocably rooted.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: The Merlin Press Ltd.; 2nd Revised edition edition (23 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0850361354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0850361353
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"One of the seminal texts of the British New Left." --Leo Panitch, professor, political science, York University-Toronto

About the Author

Ralph Miliband was one of the key intellectual figures of the British New Left and the founder of the Socialist Register. He was a professor at the London School of Economics, Brandeis University, York University–Toronto, and the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York and was chair of politics at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Divided Societies: Class Struggle in Contemporary Capitalism, Marxism and Politics, and Socialism for a Sceptical Age. He is the coeditor of A Dictionary of Marxist Thought.

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The very best critique of the Labour Party 23 Nov 2008
This book is a study on the politics of the Labour Party; specifically, it examines Labour's ideas, values, practices and policies concerning the Party's brand of "socialism". Labour's "socialism" is exposed as having little or nothing to do with the transformation of capitalist society in a genuine socialist direction - rather, for Labour "socialism" means only the inclusion of representatives of the working class (alongside representatives of other classes) participating in the parliamentary process.

Yes, Labour's "socialism" is shown to encompass social reforms - but, for Labour, the purpose of socialist ideas and practices is merely to reform the existing order of things, not to bring about any sort of radical alternative. This type of reformism differs from the objectives of many other European social democratic parties founded between 1880 and 1914, which considered such reforms as a means to bring about a revolutionary transition. This form of European social democracy was distinct from both (1) the revisionist politics of Labour, and (2) the insurrectionary strategies of the Bolsheviks.

Miliband provides an excellent discussion on the historical development of Labour - from its formation in the late 19th century, based on certain reformist and revisionist ideals and ethics, through to its advance as a leading political party in Britain by the mid 20th century. This discussion is comprehensive, well referenced, and will still serve as a useful tool for students of the history of early to mid 20th century British politics and the labour movement.

Miliband found that the purpose of narrow reform and revision, in and of itself, is inherently conservative - and he defined this brand of limited socialism as "Labourism" - distinct from proper, genuine socialism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Polemic 16 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Miliband makes a brilliant case for the redundancy of the Labour Party when it comes to achieving real socialist goals.
Highly recommended.
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