| PARLIAMENTARY SOCIALISM|
A Study in the Politics of Labour
by Ralph Miliband
First published in 1961.
An analysis of the Labour Party from its early days up to the 1960s with a 1972 postscript reflecting on the Labour government of Harold Wilson [1964-1970].
Of political parties claiming socialism to be their aim, the Labour Party has always been one of the most dogmatic - not about socialism, but about the parliamentary system.
Empirical and flexible about all else, its leaders have always made devotion to that system their fixed point of reference and the conditioning factor of their political behaviour. This is not simply to say that the Labour Party has never been a party of revolution: such parties have normally been quite willing to use the opportunities the parliamentary system offered as one means of furthering their aims. It is rather that the leaders of the Labour Party have always rejected any kind of political action (such as industrial action for political purposes) which fell, or which appeared to them to fall, outside the framework and conventions of the parliamentary system. The Labour Party has not only been a parliamentary party; it has been a party deeply imbued by parliamentarism. And in this respect, there is no distinction to be made between Labour's political and its industrial leaders. Both have been equally determined that the Labour Party should not stray from the narrow path of parliamentary politics.
the Labour Party remains, in practice, what it has always been- a party of modest social reform in a capitalist system within whose confines it is ever more firmly and by now irrevocably rooted.
'one of the seminal texts of the British New Left'.
Ralph Miliband (1924-1994) was one of the key intellectual figures of the British New Left. He was the founder of the Socialist Register and wrote Parliamentary Socialism, Marxism and Politics and Socialism for a Sceptical Age. He taught for many years at the London School of Economics before taking up the Chair of Politics at The University of Leeds. He subsequently taught at Brandeis in Boston, York University in Toronto and the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York.
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