R. H. Tawney and His Times: Socialism as Fellowship

R. H. Tawney and His Times: Socialism as Fellowship

by Ross Terrill

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Overview

Economic historian, democratic socialist, educator, and British labor party activist, R. H. Tawney touched many worlds. His life, too, spanned great distance and change. When he was born in Calcutta in 1880, Gladstone, Tennyson, and Queen Victoria were flourishing and the British Empire was approaching its height. By the time of his death in 1962, the Empire had shrunk to a few tourist islands, and socialism, once so shocking, was now commonplace.

Ross Terrill, in this absorbing first study of Tawney’s thought, view his subject within three related contexts. The first is Tawney, the man. Terrill makes skillful use of unpublished material—the early diary, speech and lecture notes, letters, interviews with friends and associates—to tell the story of Tawney’s life in relation to his times. Second is social democracy. Tawney was one of its most influential philosophers and prophets, and this book argues for the continuing validity of his socialism as a path between capitalism and communism. Third is British politics. From Edwardian liberal “consensus” to mid-century collectivist “consensus,” Tawney’s long career, often at odds with prevailing orthodoxies, offers a window on British political culture.

Four key ideas are found in Tawney’s political thought: equality and the dispersion of power—the “shape of socialism”; function and citizenship—the “life of socialism.” These ideas, and indeed the life of the man himself, Terrill believes, are summed up in socialism as fellowship. “As long as men are men,” Tawney said, “a poor society cannot be too poor to find a right order of life, nor a rich society too rich to have need to seek it.”

This book is a blend of biography, history, and the study of political ideas. It provides a striking portrait of a remarkable man and a panorama of changing ideas and situations in the society where he tried to realize his socialist vision. It offers many glimpses of Tawney’s associates, among them Beveridge, the Webbs, Laski, A. P. Wadsworth, Temple, Margaret Cole, and Leonard Woolf; and surprising snippets, like the fact that Tawney used the phrase “private affluence and public squalor” in 1919.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674743779
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 01/01/1973
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: An Approach to Tawney

A Saint But Not a Thinker?

Reconstructing Tawney

The Significance of Style

Political Thought and British Politics

PART ONE: Tawney's Life

1. Moral Quest, 1880-1914

India, Rugby, Balliol: In a World He Never Made

Charity and Slums

He "Finds Himself" in Workers' Education

2. Socialist Politics, 1915-1931

War: "I Suppose It's Worth It"

Public Figure: Miners and Bishops

The London School of Economics, with Distractions

3. Squire of Houghton Street, 1932-1942

Political Troubles

Teacher, Colleague, Watchdog of Education

To America

4. Sage, 1943-1962

War a Springboard for Socialism?

Academia: Hood, Knife, Pen

"The Roots Are Loosened"

PART TWO: Tawney's Socialism

5. Equality

Aspects of Equality

Equality and Equal Worth

Equality and Self-Fulfillment

Equality and Social Function

The Fruits of Equality

6. Dispersion of Power

The Threat of Authoritarianism

The Nature of Power

Power Must Be Dispersed

Purpose and Power

7. Social Function

Purpose

Service

The Basis of Rights

8. Citizenship

A Place in the House or a New House?

Departure from a Victorian Tradition

Education, Myth, and Citizenship

A Socialist Way of Life

Trusting the People

9. Fellowship

Recover Fraternity?

Up From Liberalism

Interlude of Possibility

The Key Is Fellowship

Within Reach of Each Other

PART THREE: Tawney Today

10. Vulnerabilities

The Problem of Common Ends

Britain and the World

Marxism's Changed Position

Politics, Rationality, and Institutional Change

Reduced Role of Christianity

11. Tawney's Importance

The Case Against Capitalism

Combating Unbridled Capitalism and Authoritarianism

The Challenge of Collectivism

Christianity and Socialism

Humanistic Socialism

Tawney's Place in British Socialism

On Sources

Bibliography of the Published Writings of R. H. Tawney

Notes

Index

What People are Saying About This

Professor Maurice Cranston

I have read it, enthralled, at a single sitting.

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