British Socialism's Crisis of Faith:
The Bankruptcy That Comes of Success
The British Labor party, it is fair to say, suffers from the exhaustion that often comes with success. It would also be fair to say that it suffers from the exhaustion that comes with failure. For, like other historic revolutions, the Labor party’s “cautious revolution” of 1945-50 found that real achievements are frequently accompanied by frustrated ideals.
In its six years of office, Labor realized, more fully than is given most administrations, the program on which it had campaigned its way to office. That program had been a consciously limited one; it did not set out to achieve immediately the socialist dream for which the Labor party had been agitating for half a century. Before having to step down, Labor had resoundingly vindicated the gradualist approach, and proved to a doubting world that socialists were serious fellows who could both win power and exercise it effectively. Its electoral defeat, however, came at the very moment when it had exhausted its program and would have had to confront directly its more grandiose historic ambitions. Since last fall, it has been clear to all observers that Labor’s next step, and indeed its whole future, have become problematic. The old élan is gone. Fresh thinking and new inspiration are needed. All of which provides a fitting occasion for a reappraisal of Labor’s accomplishments and failures, as well as for some speculation as to its future course.
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