Surely when it was faced with a tacitly hostile Establishment in Whitehall and an actively hostile press in Fleet Street it (the Labour Government 1945–51) should have felt the need for a politically conscious and educated rank and file, such as was beginning to emerge in the thirties with the help of the wea and nclc.
Richard Crossman, New Statesman, April 19th 1963.
The left badly needs its own means of educating itself as well as educating others. The time has surely come for it to create its own organization for that purpose, which will do for socialism what the Fabian Society has done for social reform.
John Saville and Ralph Miliband, The Socialist Register, p. 156.
1. The crucially important move prescribed by Saville and Miliband has already caused some discussion among socialists. We think the time has come to extend this discussion, give it focus, and take the necessary steps to form such a body as they advocate.
2. The demise of the nclc, and its replacement by a centralized agency of the tuc, highlights both the need and the opportunity to create such an educational organization, which would become the only specifically socialist educational body in the field. The need for such a body is underlined by the surprising initial success of the new movement for workers’ control, and by the declared intention of some nclc colleges to continue their work, even though their parent body has been wound up.
3. The problem faced by the Left in creating such an organization is not primarily one of lack of means or personnel, but one of disorientation of purpose, lack of focus, and fragmentation. In terms of its general educational role, this presents itself as a problem of which socialism to teach: in terms of its role as a forum and research centre in which socialists can clarify their ideas, it presents itself as a problem of whom its educational efforts are ultimately directed at.
4. None of these difficulties can be met by the establishment of a purely abstract socialist educational society, because if the fragmentation of the Left cannot be solved in the day to day struggles of the socialist movement, it simply will not solve itself in terms of discussion, which, if not axed on practical commitments producing common problems, can only produce further division.