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From Parliamentary Socialism to ‘Bennism’
Michael Newman

ITLP_C04.QXD 18/8/03 9:57 am Page 57 4 Ralph Miliband and the Labour Party: from Parliamentary Socialism to ‘Bennism’ Michael Newman Ralph Miliband completed Parliamentary Socialism at the end of 1960 and it was published in October 1961. This proved to be probably the most influential book on the Labour Party written during the post-war era – possibly the most significant of any period. As chapter 5 will confirm, the book helped shape a whole school of left-wing interpretations of the party (Coates 2002; Panitch and Leys 1997) and established an analytical

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Approaches to Labour politics and history

This book is an attempt to take stock of how some of the British Labour Party's leading interpreters have analysed their subject, deriving as they do from contrasting political, theoretical, disciplinary and methodological backgrounds. It explores their often-hidden assumptions and subjects them to critical evaluation. The book outlines five strategies such as materialist; ideational; electoral; institutional; and synthetic strategies. Materialist, ideational and electoral explanatory strategies account for Labour's ideological trajectory in factors exogenous to the party. The 'new political history' is useful in understanding Labour within a less reductive framework than either the 'high' or 'from below' approaches and in more novel terms than the Left-Right positions adopted within Labour. The book assesses the contribution made to analysis of the Labour Party and labour history by thinkers of the British New Left. New Left critiques of labourism in fact represented and continued a strand of Marxist thinking on the party that can be traced back to its inception. If Ralph Miliband's role in relation to 'Bennism' is considered in comparison to his earlier attitudes, some striking points emerge about the interaction between the analytical and subjective aspects in his interpretive framework. Miliband tried to suggest that the downfall of communism was advantageous for the Left, given the extent to which the Soviet regimes had long embarrassed Western socialists such as himself. The Nairn-Anderson theses represented an ambitious attempt to pioneer a distinctive analysis of British capitalist development, its state, society and class structure.

The quest for a great Labour Party
Andrew Gamble

, contrasting it with the very different interpretation by Ralph Miliband in his socialist critique of Labourism, Parliamentary Socialism, first published in 1961. Marquand and Miliband articulate different accounts of the progressive dilemma, which resonate in today’s Labour Party, where for the first time in its history the left of the party has elected its candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, as leader, but they agree about the recurring problems which have beset Labour throughout its history (Miliband, 1964: 16). Miliband argued that Labour had a chronic inability to act as an

in Making social democrats
Michael Newman

Saville, first appeared in the summer of 1957, building on the dissident publication, The Reasoner, which they had launched in July 1956 in an attempt to generate debate within the CP. The NR would remain closely associated with the opinion of ex-Communists, with Ralph Miliband, who joined in 1958, the only member of its editorial board who had not previously been in the CP. In February 1957, the second New Left journal, the ULR, began publication, initiated by four editors – Raphael Samuel, Gabriel Pearson, Stuart Hall and Charles Taylor – whose average age was 24

in E. P. Thompson and English radicalism
The other side of Thompson’s critique
Scott Hamilton

American, who combines a Yankee energy and irreverence with a moral toughness which comes from older, more puritan, timber’.14 John Saville and Ralph Miliband were keen for Thompson to contribute something to the 1976 issue of the Socialist Register but, as usual, Thompson found it hard to submit a text promptly. In May 1976 Thompson wrote to Saville to apologise for not having sent material, and to suggest a possible belated contribution: What I do have is an argument with an economic historian at Pittsburgh on ‘modernisation theory’: if I put this together with some

in The crisis of theory
Open Access (free)
The Nairn–Anderson interpretation
Mark Wickham-Jones

figures on the New Left, especially Ralph Miliband. As one way of examining the veracity of Nairn’s substantive points, Wertheimer’s earlier and friendlier analysis is also cited. The chapter then addresses the extent to which Nairn’s approach can be reconciled with the oftenmade claim that Labour sought to learn from Swedish social democrats during the 1950s and 1960s. Finally, the strands of the chapter are drawn together in assessing what Nairn’s work contributes to our understanding of the party. An anatomy of ‘Labourism’ For the purposes of this chapter, there are

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Interpreting the unions–party link
Steve Ludlam

writers, who rejected the pluralist claim that the State was politically neutral, portraying it as overwhelmingly on the side of capital in its class struggle against labour. Much of this perspective was inspired by Ralph Miliband’s Parliamentary Socialism (1961; see chapter 5 of this volume, by David Coates and Leo Panitch). This school explicitly aims to help identify viable socialist political strategies. The starting point is Miliband’s analysis of Labour as an overwhelmingly parliamentarist party, whose political function was to integrate organised workers into

in Interpreting the Labour Party
Abstract only
Scott Hamilton

the seventh of April the defeated Board repaired to the home of Ralph Miliband and Marion Kozak, where they ‘ate kebabs in the Sunday sunshine’ and laid plans for a new journal, which might be able to continue the work of the ‘New Left Review mark I’, albeit on a much more modest scale.38 For Edward Thompson, the euphoria of that cold winter’s night in St Pancras three and a half years earlier must have seemed a distant memory. Sheila Rowbotham has offered a snapshot of the aftermath of the defeat of April 1963: Lawrence Daly … called at the Thompson’s house in

in The crisis of theory
Scott Hamilton

and its uncritical supporters than in dealing with the principled positions of the Polish critic of the New Left. A short narrative of the making of ‘An Open Letter to Leszek Kolakowski’ may help to expose the injustice of Judt’s claims about the text and about its author. Both John Saville and Ralph Miliband had been keen for EP Thompson to write something for the 1973 Socialist Register. As we saw in chapter 3, Thompson’s association with the Register went back to its foundation in 1963; his essay ‘The Peculiarities of the English’ had helped sell out the 1964

in The crisis of theory
Open Access (free)
John Callaghan
,
Steven Fielding
, and
Steve Ludlam

Labour – for example, Henry Pelling – have at one time or another been party members who identified with one or other of its ideological factions. A number have belonged to groupings, usually, like Perry Anderson and Tom Nairn, to Labour’s Left, which have hoped to replace the party in the affections of the working class. More than a few of them – like Ralph Miliband and David Marquand – have been, at different periods in their lives, on both sides of the fence. Those writing from such committed positions have sometimes conceived of the party in teleological terms

in Interpreting the Labour Party