to pass from a “way of conflict” to a “way of life” is to pass out of the main line of the socialist intellectual tradition. I don’t mean that Raymond Williams has “broken” with socialism: at many points he has a more constructive insight into the possibilities of socialism in this country than anyone living. But in his first conceptual chapters he has cast loose his moorings; and some of his insights in the last section, “Britain in the 1960s”, do not arise so much from his stated conceptual framework as from unstated allegiances or traditional assumptions—derived from Marx or Morris or evoked in Border Country. Indeed, they often contradict what has gone before. At the end of his interesting discussion of problems in the field of publishing he comments:
We should be much clearer about these cultural questions if we saw them as a consequence of a basically capitalist organization, and I at least know better reason for capitalism to be ended. (33)
But “culture” is being used here in a different— and more limited—meaning from the one which we have been discussing; and “capitalism” carries implications which might conflict with a “system of maintenance”. Again and again in these pages unsuspected connections are revealed which throw light upon contemporary capitalism as a social system, or “way of conflict”, which call in question his own unsatisfactory definition of capitalism as “a particular and temporary system of organising the industrial process” (by whom? for whom?).
It may be that Mr. Williams’ originality demands free play outside a tradition within which so much is now confused. But if others accept his vocabulary and his conceptual framework, without sharing his allegiances, they may come up with very different results. For between these “systems” and that “way of life” I fear that they may forget that at the centre there are men in relation with one another: that “organising the industrial process” involves ownership, that ownership involves power, and that both perpetually feed property-relationships and dominative attitudes in every field of life. And that, between this system and a human system there lies, not just a further long episode of “expansion” and “growth”, but a problem of power.
Power, indeed, does not seem to find an easy
In the drawing-room Violet Hunt said she thought she had seen my handwriting—hadn’t I sent some poems of Lawrence’s to the English Review? I said I had, and how delighted we were to have Mr. Hueffer’s reply. Then she exclaimed: “But you discovered him.” To which I replied that we had been acquainted with one another ever since we were hardly more than children.
The two traditions are there, in a moment of poignant contrast: for Miriam it is the final loss of Paul, and her own return to the other tradition, ending—Mr. Moore accusingly throws out—in the “pilgrimage to Russia”. In Lawrence the traditions continued to argue within him all his life. But—this is surely Miriam’s point?—her tradition had discovered itself.