Laski, Harold 1893-1950
(Full name Harold Joseph Laski) English political theorist, nonfiction writer, and essayist.
An influential figure in left-wing politics during the period from the end of World War II to the early part of the Cold War, Laski published more than two dozen books and attracted an enormous following among students in his native Britain, the United States, and later in Asia and Africa. As a lecturer he attained almost cult-like status with youthful devotees drawn to his political ideas, which seemed to offer the Anglo-American democracies a type of Marxism more humane than the Soviet system. Laski was not without his detractors, of course, and during his lifetime became involved in a number of controversies. The latter stemmed in part from his ideas, which he developed from those of Karl Marx and other original thinkers, as well as from his actions as an outspoken pundit and a member of the British Labor Party. Laski became a well-known intellectual in the 1930s and 1940s, but his stature diminished greatly in the years following his death in 1950.
The son of Jewish parents who had become wealthy in the cotton industry of Manchester, England, Laski defied tradition when he was eighteen by marrying a non-Jewish woman, Frida Kerry. At Oxford he studied eugenics, then switched to a major in history. When World War I broke out, the British Army rejected him on the basis of his health, so he took a teaching position at McGill University in Montreal. In 1916 he moved to Harvard University, where he taught until controversy over his statements in support of striking Boston policeman forced him to leave his position in 1920. Laski returned to England to become a lecturer at the London School of Economics, and would remain in that position until his death thirty years later. Nonetheless, he maintained strong ties to the United States through friendships with such influential Americans as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and Felix Frankfurter. Books such as A Grammar of Politics (1925) gave him a large following among university students on both sides of the Atlantic, and ultimately his influence would spread far beyond the Anglo-American world to India, China, and Africa. Laski also became involved in various political activities, serving on the executive committee of the Fabian Society from 1921 to 1936, and on that of the Labour Party from 1936 to 1949. In the course of his career, Laski's politics shifted from a radically libertarian stance to an interest in totalitarianism evidenced by occasional expressions of admiration for the Soviet system under Joseph Stalin, a tendency that developed in 1931 with the onset of the Great Depression and the failure of the Labour government under Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. On the whole, however, Laski favored a democratic socialism tailored to the economic realities and social tolerance of Britain and the United States. His politics made him a well-known figure in Britain and America. After his death in 1950, however, the influence of his work decreased rapidly.
Laski is not generally considered an original thinker, but rather a synthesizer of ideas from Marx and others. Likewise, few of his published works, with the exception of A Grammar of Politics, are regarded as notable. Written during the period of his career when he was solidly committed to the rights of the individual against those of the state, a position he would reverse in the early 1930s, A Grammar of Politics is a study of the concept of liberty. In it Laski applies the notion of pluralism—that is, the idea that the state is or should be just one of several institutions, including the home, the church, civic organizations, and other groups, all competing for the allegiance of the individual. Other early works, including Studies in the Problem of Sovereignty (1917), Authority in the Modern State (1919), and The Foundations of Sovereignty, and Other Essays (1922) developed similar themes relating to the position of the individual within a larger polity. In Communism (1927), Laski offered a critique of Marxism and its application in Soviet Russia, while Democracy in Crisis (1933) and Parliamentary Government in England (1938) reflected his growing conviction that traditional democratic institutions had increasingly become unworkable. Nonetheless, he protested the Soviets' 1939 non-aggression pact with Germany, whereby Communists made common cause with Nazis, in the 1940 pamphlet Is This an Imperialist War? As the war progressed, he began to offer prognoses in Where Do We Go From Here? (1940) and Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time (1943) for the democratic socialist order that he thought should ensue with the end of hostilities. Throughout his career, Laski maintained an interest in the politics of the U.S., reflected in The American Presidency (1940) and The American Democracy (1949).
Studies in the Problem of Sovereignty (nonfiction) 1917
Authority in the Modern State (nonfiction) 1919
The Foundations of Sovereignty, and Other Essays (essays) 1922
A Grammar of Politics (nonfiction) 1925
Communism (nonfiction) 1927
Liberty in the Modern State (nonfiction) 1930
Democracy in Crisis (nonfiction) 1933
The State in Theory and Practice (nonfiction) 1935
The Rise of European Liberalism (nonfiction) 1936
Parliamentary Government in England (nonfiction) 1938
The Danger of Being a Gentleman, and Other Essays (essays) 1939
The American Presidency (nonfiction) 1940
Is This An Imperialist War? (essay) 1940
Where Do We Go From Here? (nonfiction) 1940
Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time (nonfiction) 1943
Faith, Reason, and Civilization (nonfiction) 1944
The American Democracy (nonfiction) 1949
The Dilemma of Our Times (essay) 1952
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SOURCE: "Political Metaphysic," in The Nation, Vol. 113, No. 2938, October 26, 1921, pp. 482-3.
[In the following essay, Beard reviews Laski's The Foundations of Sovereignty and Other Essays.]
Mr. Laski has brought together eight essays written on divers occasions and has prefaced them by a new study which gives the title to [The Foundations of Sovereignty and Other Essays]. Four of the papers are legal in character. These deal with the responsibility of the state, the personality of associations, the early history of the corporation in England, and the doctrine of vicarious liability. One of the studies is an excursion into administrative law, an analysis of public work and geographical districts. The remainder treat of politics in terms of philosophy. A common thesis unites them all: the unified and sovereign state is morally inadequate and administratively inefficient, and for this political monster we must substitute a pluralistic state which offers coordination for hierarchical structure. A common purpose runs through the most technical pages. It is a desire to help fix the new social philosophy on firmer historical foundations.
It goes without saying that the political philosophers will welcome Mr. Laski's book. Students of law who know and love their Pollock and Maitland will fairly revel in his illuminating inquiry into the early history of the corporation. It is...
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SOURCE: "The Pragmatic Politics of Mr. H. J. Laski," in The American Political Science Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 2, May, 1924, pp. 251-75.
[In the following essay, Elliott evaluates theories of the state and government in Laski's early writings.]
In all the varied current of contemporary political theory which seems to have set against the conception of unitary sovereignty as the basis of the structure of the state, the work of Mr. H. J. Laski stands out sufficiently to command general attention. Perhaps this is as much because of the arresting fashion in which Mr. Laski has challenged the traditional doctrines of political theory as it is from the positive content of his own theories. He has seized upon the ideas centering about group rights which Drs. Figgis and Maitland have forced so brilliantly upon modern attention, and has made great play with them in developing Mr. Ernest Barker's idea of "The Discredited State."1 Because of the radical implications of some of these theories as Mr. Laski has expounded them, political theorists have for some time been waiting for the promised exposition of Mr. Laski's ideas in more systematic form than has yet been offered by any of the historical and critical studies and the two brief introductory chapters of The Problem of Sovereignty and Authority in the Modern State, or even The Foundations of Sovereignty.2 But as Mr....
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SOURCE: "Harold J. Laski: A Grammar of Politics," in Mind, Vol. 34, 1925, pp. 495-9.
[In the following essay, MacKenzie reviews Laski's A Grammar of Politics.]
Those who are acquainted with previous writings on political subjects by Mr. Laski will expect much from his new book [A Grammar of Politics], and they will not be disappointed. Perhaps the title of it may prove a little misleading. Some may think that a Grammar should be concerned either with the discussion of fundamental principles or with an account of the way in which they are illustrated in the structure of existing societies. Mr. Laski seems to understand Grammar as being essentially an art; and his book is largely occupied with the exposition of a definite political programme. For the majority of readers this may be a more interesting subject than a purely theoretical one would have been; but it is more difficult to deal with satisfactorily in a philosophical Journal. The book is, however, by no means lacking in theoretical interest; and it is mainly from this point of view that it must be regarded here.
The general basis of Mr. Laski's treatment is not quite easy to characterise. His references to writers on political theory are surprisingly slight. The most definite is to Bentham. He says (p. 24) that his own doctrine 'is a special adaptation of the Benthamite theory to the special needs of our time. It...
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SOURCE: "Mr. Laski Proceeds," in The Nation, Vol. 140, March 30, 1935, pp. 338-9.
[In the following essay, Niebuhr reviews Laski's The State in Theory and Practice.]
No contemporary political scientist has analyzed the problems of sovereignty and the state with greater clarity and precision and with a finer sense for the actualities of political history than Harold Laski. In his most recent volume [The State in Theory and Practice] he does justice to his earlier philosophical and historical interest in the character of the state by a rather final and telling refutation of the metaphysical theory of the state as held by Hegel and Bosanquet. Thereupon he proceeds to elaborate his theory of the state in more consistently Marxian terms than in any previous volume.
In a sense this new book is a further development of the thesis presented in his "Democracy in Crisis." In that volume he contended that a socialist party in democratic countries must seek to gain power by democratic means but must not expect its opponents to acquiesce peacefully in its assumption of power. He maintained that British constitutional history offered some hope, but only a slight one, that the erstwhile ruling classes would accept their parliamentary defeat without seeking to retrieve their power through the prestige of the crown and their control of the army. In the new volume he underscores this conclusion...
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SOURCE: "Normative, Descriptive, and Ideological Elements in the Writings of Laski," in Philosophy of Science, April, 1945, pp. 134-45.
[In the following essay, Zerby distinguishes between Laski's statements about existing political conditions, and his views of the ideal society.]
Laski has been and remains one of the most erudite and influential of the English liberals—indeed, regardless of which of his books the liberal reads, he finishes it with the feeling that Laski is a force for good in political life. However, for the kind of philosopher who is accustomed to make distinctions between morality, ethics, ideology, and descriptive science, there are certain confusions in Laski's writings that give grounds for criticism of both a theoretical and practical nature.
Since this paper will be so largely concerned with the terms "morality," "ethics," and "ideology," and since they are words which are notoriously ambiguous, it should be made clear in the beginning how I propose to use them. The definitions I give, however, are not to be taken as an attempt to express either real or even generally accepted meanings for these terms. They are suggested for the purpose of emphasizing certain distinctions which seem to me to be worth stressing.
By "morality" I mean the formulation of human ideals in terms of standards which are used to evaluate the ends of action....
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SOURCE: A review of The American Democracy, in Ethics, Vol. 59, 1948, pp. 61-3.
[In the following essay, Wright reviews The American Democracy.]
On the jacket of Professor Laski's book [The American Democracy: A Commentary and an Interpretation] the publishers have printed these words: "In 1838 Tocqueville: Democracy in America: In 1888 Bryce: The American Commonwealth: In 1948 Laski:The American Democracy." Now the fact is that Tocqueville's book did not appea r in 1838. The first part appeared in 1835, the second in 1840. This is a trifling inaccuracy which would not be worth mentioning if the new work fitted into the indicated pattern. I think it does not, except in coverage and in intention. But it is not a new Tocqueville, much less a new Bryce. It is an old Laski.
The scope of the book is vast, but there is relatively little of the solid, clearly set forth information that one finds in Bryce. Rather has Mr. Laski, like Tocqueville before him, written a commentary on American civilization. Political institutions receive much less attention than in Bryce's or Tocqueville's books, there being but two chapters on this subject; but there are long chapters—some of them almost of book length—on business enterprise, labor, religion, education, culture, minority problems, international relations, the professions, and press, cinema and radio, as well...
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SOURCE: "Harold J. Laski: A Preliminary Analysis," in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. LXV, No. 3, September, 1950, pp. 370-92.
[In the following essay, Hawkins takes a critical look at Laski's Marxism, and the ways this ideology affected his interpretation of the world.]
To all who are concerned with the scope and function of political authority the ideas of Harold Joseph Laski are of signal importance. Over the course of his lifetime Laski' s ideas reflected in many respects the strength and weakness both of those who strive to maintain liberty as the main end of democratic government, and of those who see in equality the fountainhead of democracy which is secured largely through state action. Beginning his public career as an extreme critic of the state, Laski had been for many years prior to his death an outstanding spokesman for collectivism. This vigorous personality was one of the most controversial figures in the academic and political world of the twentieth century.
Elsewhere a review and analyses of Laski's different political philosophies from pluralism to Marxism have been attempted by this writer.1 Here I wish to point out one significant result of Laski's treatment of the old and continuing problem of liberty versus authority in the particular circumstances of the twentieth century in which the problem is posed. For all his freely recognized scholarly...
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SOURCE: "Professor Laski and Political Science," in The Political Quarterly, Vol. XXI, No. 3, July-September, 1950, pp. 301-10.
[In the following essay, Soltau examines the foundations of Laski's political thinking, and the applications of his philosophy to various realms of political life.)
This is not, and cannot be, a full critical analysis of Laski's work. That will necessitate a detachment still made impossible by affection and sense of loss. All we can hope to do is to offer an inevitably subjective impression of what were the dominant aspects of his contribution to that subject to which he devoted his life.1
The first thing that must strike the student of Laski's work is his extraordinary versatility and precocity. Historian and political scientist as he ultimately became, he began by spending some months between school and university working in Karl Pearson's biometric laboratory in University College, London. Once at Oxford, he first read zoology, thinking of making science his lifework; by the end of the year, he came to the conclusion that he was on the wrong track and went back to the subject in which he had won his exhibition to New College, history. Once within his true field, he cast his net very widely; his mastery of legal principles, his grasp of the implications of legal decisions and precedents were exceptional in one who was not a trained lawyer, and give to...
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SOURCE: "The Holmes-Laski Correspondence," in The Bit Between My Teeth: A Literary Chronicle of 1950-1965, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1965, pp. 78-100.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1953, Wilson offers an overview of the correspondence between Laski and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.]
The correspondence between Justice Holmes and Harold J. Laski extended over nearly nineteen years—1916-35. It has been published almost in toto in two volumes, comprising sixteen hundred and fifty pages, by the Harvard University Press: Holmes-Laski Letters, under the editorship of Holmes's literary executor, Mr. Mark DeWolfe Howe, with a foreword by Mr. Justice Frankfurter. Mr. Howe has supplied careful notes that identify, wherever possible, the innumerable authors and books discussed by the two correspondents, and has added a biographical appendix that gives somewhat fuller accounts of the more important persons mentioned. There is a complete, an ideal index, that runs to a hundred and twenty-three pages.
This reviewer has read the whole correspondence with never-flagging fascination and has found it the perfect resource for railroad trips and bedtime entertainment, but everyone may not feel the same interest in the earlier phases of the "liberal" movement—about which, during the years when Laski was teaching at Harvard and associated with the New...
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SOURCE: "Harold Laski," in From Napoleon to Stalin and Other Essays, The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1980, pp. 170-76.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1953, Carr profiles Laski's correspondence with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.]
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Judge of the American Supreme Court and the most distinguished American lawyer of recent times, commonly referred to as "Mr. Justice Holmes", to distinguish him from his father of the same name, the author of The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, had reached the age of 75 in the year 1916 when Mr Felix Frankfurter, head of the famous Law School of Harvard, brought to visit him at his summer residence in New England a remarkable young Englishman in his twenty-third year. Harold Laski was the son of Orthodox Jewish parents of Polish origin settled in Manchester. He had gone up to New College, Oxford, with a scholarship at the age of 18. As an undergraduate he celebrated his emancipation from his background by marrying, in defiance of all family opposition, a non-Jewish girl. On the outbreak of war in 1914, having been rejected for military service, he obtained a teaching appointment at McGill University, Montreal. A year later he became a junior instructor in the Department of Government at Harvard.
The respectful pilgrimage of the enthusiastic young neophyte to the home of the great man in his declining years is a...
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SOURCE: "The Nature of the State and Political Power," in The Political Ideas of Harold J. Laski, Columbia University Press, 1955, pp. 13-33.
[In the following excerpt, Deane explores Laski's changing views on the state and the legitimacy of its political power.]
Laski's earliest political writings are a constant polemic against what he terms "mystic monism"1 in political thought—the conception that the state is to political theory what the Absolute is to metaphysics, that it is mysteriously One above all other human groupings, and that, because of its superior position and higher purpose, it is entitled to the undivided allegiance of each of its citizens. Laski believes that the main prop of this monistic theory of the state is the concept of state sovereignty, elaborated by Bodin and Hobbes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and given modern form in John Austin's definition of the legal sovereign as the "determinate human superior, not in a habit of obedience to a like superior," who receives "habitual obedience from the bulk of a given society."2 He therefore attempts to destroy the monistic view by concentrating his critical fire on the concept of sovereignty.
Following Figgis's analysis,3 Laski argues that with the breakup of feudalism and the rise of the modern state, the state assumed for itself the plenitudo potestatis that...
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SOURCE: "The Corruption of Liberal Thought: Harold Laski," in Dilemmas of Politics, The University of Chicago Press, 1958, pp. 343-49.
[In the following excerpt, Morgenthau takes a critical look at Laski's shift from liberalism to socialism.]
The decline of the political philosophy of liberalism is due to the defects of its general philosophy, which contemporary developments have brought to the fore. What liberalism had to say about the nature of man, society, and politics is at odds with what we have experienced. More specifically, it has been unable to reconcile its original libertarian assumptions and postulates with its latter-day philosophy of the administrative and welfare state. Professor Laski, the most brilliant, erudite, and prolific exponent of the last stage of liberalism, exemplifies the philosophic insufficiency and political confusion of liberal thought. He also exemplifies the intellectual corruption that follows inevitably from an attempt to square the disparate elements of liberalism with each other and with the experiences of the age.
Liberty in the Modern State makes these points in ways quite unintended and unsuspected by its author. The book was first published in 1930; it was republished with a long, new introduction in 1937, then republished again in 1949. The Introduction to this last edition was obviously completed in 1947 and incorporates substantial...
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SOURCE: "Laski Redivivus," in Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1966, pp. 87-101.
[In the following essay, Peretz evaluates Laski's relevance to America in the 1960s.]
It is now more than fifteen years since Harold J. Laski died, and it is almost as if whatever favourable words have been entered for him since have been in the defensive mood, slightly apologetic and with just the faintest traces of embarrassment. Such, in fact, was the case, one should add, even before his death, especially after his unsuccessful libel action. Moreover, 'there is no element of his work', as he himself rather sardonically wrote of Marx's, 'which has not been declared obsolete'.1 And while one would not seek for Laski the voluminous attentions one naturally claims for Marx, it is surely reasonable to withdraw glib charges of obsolescence pending the kind of serious scholarly consideration which Laski has been denied and which, if only in virtue of his pre-eminent place in radical thought and in radical movements on four continents and over two generations, he should so easily command.
At the end even his friends felt obliged to justify, by way of their own personal caveats or his extra compensating qualities, what loyalties they felt for him. This was true for Beloff and for Strachey, himself no innocent when it came to egregious enthusiasms; true also for his London School of...
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SOURCE: "The Jewishness and Zionism of Harold Laski," in Midstream, Vol. 23, No. 9, November, 1977, pp. 72-7.
[In the following essay, Gorni discusses Laski's attitude toward his own Jewishness, and toward the cause of Zionism.]
Since the early days of European socialism, the attitude of left-wing Jewish intellectuals to Judaism and Zionism has always been problematical. Many of them were torn between Jewish loyalties and the conscious desire to escape their origins. Harold Laski, one of the outstanding and most influential left-wing intellectuals in the Englishspeaking world in the nineteen thirties and forties, did not escape this personal conflict. But, then, his entire personality and personal history were marked by paradoxical contrasts. He was an iconoclast and a believer; a romantic rationalist; an inspired and beloved teacher who left no heirs; an influential thinker who did not always plumb the depths of the problems he studied; a brilliant speaker who was, nevertheless, no orator; a left-wing radical but no revolutionary; a naive politician and a Jewish cosmopolitan.
He was a Jew in the eyes of others and according to his own testimony. In the early twenties, Moshe Shertok (Sharett) described him in a letter to Berl Katznelson as the best and most impressive teacher at the London School of Economics, and added: "He is an Anglo-American Jew, a young man, as thin and dark as a...
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SOURCE: "Laski and British Socialism," in History of Political Thought, Vol. II, No. 3, Winter, 1981, pp. 573-91.
[In the following essay, Greenleaf examines the development of Laski's socialist ideas.]
It is just over a quarter of a century now since Harold Laski died. His writings have since received a certain amount of attention, most of it critical, some of it downright pejorative. I confess that for a long while I shared this deprecatory attitude; but lately I have begun to wonder whether it is justified. The main difficulty which has been raised by commentators centres on the matter of consistency. It is pointed out how Laski, beginning as a libertarian pluralist, then seems to swing over to Fabian collectivism, and finally appears to come to rest in some form of Marxist position. And (it is urged or implied) ideological tergiversation of this kind is hardly compatible with a genuine intellectual coherence or seriousness or honesty. Certainly the analysis is plausible and legitimately draws attention to Laski's eclectic and (it might seem) inconstant way of treating issues of political theory and policy.
But the nagging questions recurred. Are we seeing it all wrong? Might we be expecting something inappropriate, or too much? Is there somehow a perspective in which it is possible to discern a thread of consistency running through these labyrinthine ways?...
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SOURCE: "Harold J. Laski: The American Experience," in American Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring, 1983, pp. 53-67.
[In the following essay, Ekirch assesses Laski 's impact on American politics, in part through his relations with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other prominent Americans. ]
A generation after his death in 1950, Harold Laski, the eminent political scientist, socialist and British Labour Party leader, is now little remembered by students outside his own fields of government and political theory. Yet Laski remains an important figure in both British and American Studies. In an obituary assessment of his fellow political scientist, the distinguished Oxford don Max Beloff called the modern period "The Age of Laski." In intellectual history, Beloff believed, Laski had played a catalytic role much like that of John Stuart Mill in the nineteenth century.1
Along with his career as a practical politician, Laski was also an intellectual and an idealist. Most importantly, perhaps, he was a great personal influence among his contemporaries and an inspiring teacher. Thomas Cook, an American political scientist, predicted that Laski's most lasting effect would be through his students. His lectures, Cook observed, "were fraught with a dynamic sense of social ardor. He conveyed, as few teachers convey, the conviction that the subjects with which he dealt were the vital issues...
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SOURCE: "Laski, Labour & Moscow," in Encounter, Vol. 62, March, 1984, pp. 28-31.
[In the following essay, Hunt offers a critical look at Laski's pro-Soviet writings, particularly an essay in The Danger of Being a Gentleman.]
Browsing through an old bookshop in South London recently I came upon one of those forgotten political volumes with a tattered red dust-jacket so redolent of the 1930s and 1940s. Befitting his contemporary importance the author's name was printed in massive type completely overshadowing the title: LASKI—The danger of being a gentleman.1
Nostalgia for an era of political innocence welled up as I flicked through the pages. From 1930 until his death in 1950 Harold J. Laski was the personification of the intellectual Left in Britain. Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and an influential member of the Labour Party National Executive, he was guru to the radical youth of his generation long before that term was in use.
Intrigued by a chapter headed "Law and Justice in the Soviet Union" I gambled 50p on the book and read on with growing fascination. Here was the authentic voice of the broad or far Left in the 1930s, intolerant of doubt and confident in the essential benevolence of the Soviet régime. Readers of ENCOUNTER are already familiar with the stream of naive Westerners who made the pilgrimage to...
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SOURCE: "Laski's Legacy," in Harold Laski: A Life on the Left, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1993, pp. 580-92.
[In the following excerpt, Kramnick and Sheerman recount events that occurred in the decades following Laski's death and evaluate his overall influence.]
'No one can teach politics who does not know politics at first hand,' Laski wrote in 1939, and he practised what he preached. Few people in the twentieth century have lived two such totally complete lives as scholar and politician as he did. After his death he was remembered and honoured in both worlds. The Labour Party's annual conference in 1950 approved a resolution remembering 'with gratitude and affection the outstanding service rendered to the labour movement, the cause of international solidarity and human freedom, by the late Harold Laski'. The resolution's mover spoke of his contribution over the years to the formation of socialist policy and his role 'as one of the principal architects of our victory in 1945'. To honour the memory of 'one of the greatest socialists that this movement ever knew', the party's National Executive Committee also established a 'Laski Memorial Travelling Fellowship' from funds raised by local constituency parties. In France the Socialist Party conference in May observed an unprecedented minute's silence 'in the memory of Professor Harold J. Laski'.
Freda Kirchwey wrote in the Nation...
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SOURCE: "Reputations: Harold Laski Today," in Political Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 3, July-September, 1996, pp. 228-38.
[In the following essay, Newman offers a late twentieth-century analysis of Laski's ideas and works.]
Harold Laski (1893-1950) was perhaps the best-known socialist intellectual of his era. As a prolific writer, inspiring teacher, intimate friend of leading political figures and prominent member of the Labour Party National Executive, his influence was felt in the United States, India and mainland Europe as well as in Britain. However, he was always a controversial figure; having achieved notoriety as the bête noire of the right during the 1945 general election campaign, his reputation declined, and after his death his personal integrity was impugned and his thought attacked. It is probably now accepted that much of the vilification was a product of the Cold War and based on a misrepresentation of his views. Yet despite the partial rehabilitation of Laski as a public figure, many continue to question his status as a political thinker. He is generally seen rather as a brilliant teacher and 'public intellectual' whose contribution was necessarily ephemeral rather than enduring.
This is partly because Laski combined so many roles that he is a difficult figure to categorise, and it is certainly true that his frenetic activity diminished the overall coherence of his...
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Deane, Herbert A. "Bibliography." In The Political Ideas of Harold Laski, pp. 346-59. New York: Columbia University Press, 1955.
Selected bibliography divided into three sections: books, articles, pamphlets, and speeches by Laski; works Laski edited, translated, or introduced; and books and articles about him.
Kramnick, Isaac and Barry Sheerman. "Select Bibliography." In Harold Laski: A Life on the Left, pp. 636-54. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1993.
Devoted chiefly to books by, about, or relating to Laski; with a listing of manuscript collections and other documents, as well as a relatively short list of Laski-related articles.
Eastwood, Granville. Harold Laski. London: Mowbrays, 1977, 173 p.
A presentation of Laski in a personal light, with chapter titles such as "Teacher and Friend" and "Family Man." This volume also includes a foreword by then-Prime Minister and Labour Party leader James Callaghan.
Kampelman, Max. "Harold J. Laski: A Current Analysis." The Journal of Politics 10, No. 1 (February 1948): 131-54.
A critical review of eighteen months in Laski's "politically productive life," from June 1944 through January 1946: his writings, his public statements, and his actions.
Kramnick, Isaac. "Our Harold."...
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