A Future for Socialism by Bryan Gould; Out of Apathy: Voices of the New Left Thirty Years on by Oxford University Discussion Group - review by Matt Seaton

Matt Seaton

The Left Quick March

A Future for Socialism

By

Jonathan Cape 208pp £15 order from our bookshop

Out of Apathy: Voices of the New Left Thirty Years on

By

Verso 182pp £24.95 order from our bookshop
 

For two such different books, one by a single author concentrating on the future, the other a collection of many voices assessing and reminiscing about the past, there are unexpected points of contact and mutual illuminations. With contrasting degrees of scepticism and self-assurance, A Future for Socialism and Out of Apathy reflect a sustained argument about the meaning of ‘socialism’ – it almost seems to have shrunk to a struggle over semantics. In the end what remains is an unsavoury choice between the premature triumphalism of a Labour MP with the scent of a parliamentary majority in his nostrils, and the introspective and ritual self-criticism of the New Left’s leading lights who, in Lindsay Anderson’s words, ‘can envisage nothing more clearly than Maggie’s Fourth Term’.

Bryan Gould has established himself as both a moderniser and an intellectual by the standards of the Labour Party (Out of Apathy, as a portrait of the New Left, underlines the profound ambivalence with which socialist intellectuals have regarded the Labour Party – characterised as ‘one foot in, one foot

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