Susan Watkins on Michael Newman, Ralph Miliband and the Politics of the New Left. The distinctive intelligence of a continental socialist in Britain.
A SOCIALIST CASSANDRA
In 1989 Ralph Miliband outlined two possible scenarios for the future of class conflict. In the first, the deregulation and de-unionization of economic life would be mirrored at the political level. Social Democratic and Labour parties might retain their names but the notion of a fundamental challenge to capitalism would have become decisively marginalized. Conflicts would continue but would not constitute a threat to the social order; they might even strengthen it, by functioning as safety valve or prompt to minor reforms. An exception would be terrorism, practised by tiny groups at the extremes of the political spectrum. This would be ‘a problem and a nuisance’ but quite incapable of destabilizing a securely legitimated system.
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