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Left in the Wilderness: The Political Economy of British Democratic Socialism Since 1979

Left in the Wilderness: The Political Economy of British Democratic Socialism Since 1979 (Hardback)

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The years since 1979 have seen unprecedented challenges to socialism, which have threatened to strip it of its social constituency, destroy its ideological foundations and render it prescriptively defunct. In this major assessment of the socialist project, Noel Thompson examines the state of socialist political economy in Britain considering how it has reacted to these challenges, and what its future might be. Thompson charts how its constituent elements have been shaped and articulated over the last twenty years, examining in turn the political economies of the alternative economic strategy, municipal socialism, decentralised socialism, market socialism, Keynesian social democracy, supply-side socialism, radical stakeholderism, the Anglo-American-model social democracy and multinational socialism. Thompson shows how each of these has failed to counter effectively the ideological and material threats posed by neo-liberalism and transnational capitalism and, in a forceful and convincing analysis, argues that the capitalism which democratic socialism now confronts has left little theoretical or prescriptive room for socialist advance or manoeuvre.

As we begin the twenty-first century its political economies appear theoretically exhausted and the Left in Britain has entered an ideological wilderness from which there seems little prospect of return. "Left in the Wilderness" is a challenging and uncompromising critique of socialist political economies from a socialist historian. Although its conclusions will not be welcomed by the Left, the author's penetrating analysis cannot be ignored. This book will be required reading for all students of recent British economic and political history.

Noel Thompson is Professor of History at the University of Wales, Swansea.

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