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New Left Review I/27, September-October 1964

Perry Anderson

Critique of Wilsonism

The relatively stable equilibrium, which defined British politics and society for a decade, has now broken down. The crisis of the traditional English hegemonic class, under whose rule British capitalism has in recent years so visibly declined, threatens the long supremacy of the Conservative Party. It would be too much to say that socialists were prepared for this, poised for their own participation in coming events. Since its severe defeat at Blackpool in 1961, the Left has taken no major initiatives and launched no great debates. The rapid succession of crises and upheavals which began with the death of Gaitskell and culminated with the resignation of Macmillan, unfolded without any independent intervention by the Left. In two years, there has been a memorable bonfire of values in Britain. The Left did not light it. Will it benefit from it?

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Perry Anderson, ‘Critique of Wilsonism’, NLR I/27: £3

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