Rethinking Socialism A Theory for a Better Practice
First published in 1983. Socialism was generally unpopular in Britain in the 1980s. The Left needed new ideas and fresh approaches if it was ever to escape its isolation from the mainstream of political and cultural life. Rethinking Socialism brought such a perspective to socialist thought and practice in Britain. Gavin Kitching contended that the unpopularity of the Left was not due primarily to the pernicious influence of the press and media, as many socialists argued, but reflected fundamental changes in the British social structure and, above all, the simple incredibility and irrelevance of many socialist beliefs and policies. He also claims that socialism will continue to be unpopular so long as it is divorced from the values and concerns of the majority of British people.
Kitching shows how basic and obvious facts about Britain, and other advanced capitalist countries, were ignored or wished away, and how crucial lessons of the Soviet and East European experience had not been learnt. He argues that radical politics in Britain both reflected and reinforced a ‘ghetto’ mentality bred by the Left’s political and intellectual isolation. The book is more than just a critique, however; it presented as well a more relevant and popular alternative strategy for the Left. This focused on extending and deepening political and economic democracy, and aimed to preserve the benefits which people had derived from capitalism and parliamentary democracy while extending them and thus transforming the system that conferred them.
Foreword; Preface; Introduction; 1. Socialism and the Working Class 2. Socialism and Underdevelopment 3. Romantic Anti-Capitalism 4. Feminism: Potential and Actuality 5. Pre-Emptive Unionism: A Possible Way Forward for Socialism in Britain; Appendix: Politics, Economics and Intellectuals