In this book, Eric Hobsbawm, one of Britain's most distinguished historians, tackles the current impasse of the left. In a series of cogent and elegant contributions he elaborates a strategy for the defeat of Thatcherism and the opening of a new era of progressive and democratic politics.
Hobsbawm situates the left's recent difficulties within a longer historical perspective: the epochal crisis of the 'classic labour movement' created by new patterns of urbanization and post-industrial economics. He argues that in Britain this crisis pas been exacerbated by a factionalism which obstructs the creation of rational alliances, and by an insularity which blinds the left to valuable lessons from elsewhere in Europe. Unity of the left, around a broad and imaginative programme including major reform of the electoral system, is the only effective response to a Conservative government which has made a radical break with the post-war consensus.
Politics for a Rational Left sets Hobsbawm's influential political analyses in the context of more discursive contributions ranging over themes such as working-class organization in the modern city, the appeal of nationalism in contemporary society, the lessons of the pre-war Popular Front, and his own formative political experience. Hobsbawm emerges from these pages as a hard-headed and lucid political commentator whose dismissal of wishful thinking and party chauvinism never deflects from an underlying commitment to the relevance of socialism for the 1990s.
Published in association with Marxism Today