Posts Tagged ‘Fabianism’

Useful Book: Socialisms: Theory and Practices, by Antony Wright

July 2, 2016

Socialisms Cover

(Oxford: Oxford University Press 1987)

I was asked a few weeks ago by some of the commenters here what the difference between Socialism and Communism was. In fact, apart from democratic Socialism, which most people understand as Socialism, there is a bewildering variety of difference types of Socialism, and socialists have often strongly disagreed with each other about what it means and how it should be carried out, while advocating the collective ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Anthony Wright was the lecturer in political studies at the Department of Extramural Studies at Birmingham University. His book, published nearly three decades ago, has the subtitle on its front cover ‘Why Socialists disagree – and what they disagree about’. It discusses the different forms of Socialism, and the disagreements between them.

The blurb states:

One third of the world’s population now lives under a regime which describes itself as socialist. But what precisely is socialism? Marxists claim that they are the only true socialists, but this is hotly denied by Trotksyists, Anarchists, Fabians, Collectivists, Syndicalists, Social Democrats and members of the many other ‘socialist’ movements.

In this lucid and unintimidating introduction to the subject Anthony Wright argues that the contradictions, rivalries, and antagonisms within socialism arise from the absence of a single socialist tradition. The very word ‘socialism’ has (as R.H. Tawney put it) ‘radiant ambiguities’.

Socialisms develops this theme throughout a wide-ranging analysis of socialist theories and practices, and concludes, provocatively, with a look at the future prospects of contemporary socialisms.

As you can see, the book was written before the collapse of Communism, and neoliberal economics had infected the western socialist parties with different forms of the ‘Third Way’. It’s quite short at 137 pages, with different chapters on ‘traditions’, ‘arguments’, ‘doctrines’, ‘methods’, ‘actors’ and ‘futures’. In his conclusion, Wright looked forward to the rigid divisions between the different varieties of socialism breaking down, so that socialists of different persuasions can learn, and profitably borrow from each other.

Fabian View on Necessity of People Knowing Legal and Constitutional Rights

April 20, 2014

I found this paragraph in Peter Archer’s chapter on ‘The Constitution’ in Fabian Essays in Socialist Thought, ed. Ben Pimlott (London: Heinemann 1984) 117-31 (122).

Fabian Book Pic

Secondly, if the rights of the citizen are to be effective, it is vital that everyone should be aware of their entitlements and their obligations, should understand what conditions are required to activate them, and should be entitled to argue their case to those who adjudicate upon them. The right of free people to be heard embraces not only the political debates which precede the legislation, but decisions about its application. there is a pressing need to ensure that adequate advice and, where necessary, representation, is available to all. Until the numerous barriers to advice are broken, each new right merely widens the gap between the articulate and assertive, those with knowledgeable friends, and those with neither the resources nor the confidence to avail themselves of their entitlements. Since I have developed this theme elsewhere I do not propose to pursue it here, except to reiterate the need for a national body, with local subsidiaries, to coordinate and supplement the advisory services.

Unfortunately, the provision of bodies informing the public of their rights is even more necessary now. The Citizens Advice Bureaux are under serious attack by the Tories, and have seen their budgets savagely cut. As with the abolition of legal aid, this is less about saving money than with denying the poor, the underprivileged and the exploited knowledge of their legal rights and the ability to challenge injustice by the rich and corrupt.