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New Left Review I/4, July-August 1960

John Saville

Apathy into Politics

in “revolution”, Edward Thompson wrote, “that the point of breakthrough is not a narrow political concept; it will entail a confrontation throughout society between two systems, two ways of life. In this confrontation, political consciousness will become heightened. . .” This is one of the most important formulations of Out of Apathy: but what, I wonder, does it mean to the Aldermaston generation, or the overwhelming majority of the Labour Party’s rank and file? Most members of the Labour Movement keep their party or trade union affiliation for election times or periods of crisis. We have, then, to consider how this “confrontation” may be brought about. Certainly it would be easier if Her Majesty’s Opposition began to oppose with the vigour that the Tories did between 1947 and 1951: or if the Labour Party outside Westminster began to talk, preach and practice socialist ideas between General Elections. But here I am concerned primarily with the confrontation in ideas.

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John Saville, ‘Apathy into Politics’, NLR I/4: £3

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