Parliamentary Socialism

A Study in the Politics of Labour

By Ralph Miliband  

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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. 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 opportu-nities 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 which fell, or which appeared to them to fall, outside the framework and conventions of the parliamentary system. The Labour Party 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 capital-ist system within whose confines it is ever more firmly and by now irrevocably rooted.

“One of the seminal texts of the British New Left.”

— Leo Panitch

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  • Introduction
  • Labour in Parliament
  • Labour in the First World War
  • Parliamentarianism versus Direct Action
  • From Opposition to Office, the General Strike
  • The Price of Responsibility
  • MacDonaldism without Mac-Donald
  • The Challenge of Appeasement
  • The Climax of Labourism
  • The Sickness of Labourism
  • Post-script

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