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    Ross McKibbin, Why was there no Marxism in Great Britain ?

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 5783
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Ross McKibbin, Why was there no Marxism in Great Britain ? Empty Ross McKibbin, Why was there no Marxism in Great Britain ?

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback le Lun 11 Mar - 7:42


    "Before 1914 nowhere in Europe was seemingly more favoured to produce a mass working-class party than Britain. In 1901 about 85 percent of the total working population was employed by others, and about 75 per cent were manual workers. The agricultural sector was almost exiguous: slightly less than 12 per cent of the male population worked in agriculture, horticulture and forestry and the number was declining. In the broadest sense Britain was unquestionably aworking-class nation. But on closer analysis the huge Britishproletariat disperses itself, and its 'collective* element becomesremarkably thin. There are several ways by which this can be shown. If we take trade union membership as a reasonable index of collectivity we find that in 1901 of a total employed workforce of 13.7 million, a little under two million, about 15 per cent, were union members. The effective number is probably somewhat  higher since this figure includes among the workforce children and adolescents who were not eligible for union membership. Even so, it is clear that about  80 per cent of the male workforce was ununionized ; the female workforce outside cotton was almost entirely non-union. By 1914 the proportion unionized was significantly higher —25.8 per cent— but on the eve of the war three-quarters of the male workforce was still ununionized, while the proportion of women workers in unions remained tiny. By itself that 25 per cent -four million workers— could have constituted a formidable proletarian vanguard ; but there is no simple identity between union membership and political inclination. Indeed, we know pretty well what union opinion was. The  1913 legislation which reversed the Osborne Judgement required union members to vote on the establishment  of a political fund ; many did not vote at all and of those who did 40 per cent voted against affiliation to the Labour Party. Only in one union, the Engineers, was the ideological character of the Labour Party an issue and in that union alone can we assume that some of the opposition to affiliation came from the left. In other unions, in so far as the argument had a clear point, it was the 'socialism' of the Labour Party which was objectionable. Even if we simply leave aside those who did not vote at all we ough." (p.298)

    "Although in the government sector (the Post Office particularly) and in the Co-operative Societies there was some advance in organization, private commerce remained almost immune from working-class politics, rendered so not only by the action of employers but by the social environment of the occupations, an environment dominated by snobbery and excessive respectability." (p.300)

    "The success of the Hornbys in Blackburn, Chamberlain in Birmingham or Sir Howard Vincent in Sheffield (who, like Chamberlain, held his city for the Tories even in 1906) demonstrates how the structure of industry could foster a political affinity between masters and men. When Baldwin told the House of Commons that, as a boy, he knew by name every man who worked in Baldwin's iron works (Bewdley) he was invoking a political reality and not (or not only) uttering a Tory platitude. To foreign (middle-class) observers this was Britain's exemplary achievement. 'Nowhere', Schulze-Gavernitz wrote,

    do we meet the social pessimism so familiar in Germany, nowhere the belief among the lower classes that salvation can only come through the overthrow and destruction of the existing order... Amongst the Englishworking classes, the economic investigator never meets that deep-seated mistrust which makes the German workman regard every man in a goodcoat as an enemy, if not a spy.

    This suggests that the clientele likely to patronize a specifically working-class party based upon an occupational solidarity was acomparatively small one and even smaller if the party were Marxist or quasi-Marxist." (p.303)

    -Ross McKibbin, Why was there no Marxism in Great Britain ?, The English Historical Review, Volume XCIX, Issue CCCXCI, April 1984, Pages 297–331.

    « La racine de toute doctrine erronée se trouve dans une erreur philosophique. [...] Le rôle des penseurs vrais, mais aussi une tâche de tout homme libre, est de comprendre les possibles conséquences de chaque principe ou idée, de chaque décision avant qu'elle se change en action, afin d'exclure aussi bien ses conséquences nuisibles que la possibilité de tromperie. » -Jacob Sher, Avertissement contre le socialisme, Introduction à « Tableaux de l'avenir social-démocrate » d'Eugen Richter, avril 1998.

    "La vraie volupté est remportée comme une victoire sur la tristesse [...] Il n’y a pas de grands voluptueux sans une certaine mélancolie, pas de mélancoliques qui ne soient des voluptueux trahis." -Albert Thibaudet, La vie de Maurice Barrès, in Trente ans de vie française, volume 2, Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française, 1919, 312 pages, p.40.

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