The state and revolution in Britain 1916-1926
The thesis is an examination and discussion of the responses of British governments to developments in labour and socialist organisations between 1916 and 1926. The first chapter is concerned with the growing recognition of the increased power of labour under the conditions of modern war. Yet governments, it is argued, failed to develop a coherent labour policy and often acted in a confused and contradictory manner. The second chapter begins with an analysis of the post war crisis when many politicians began to regard revolution as a real possibility. They developed two agencies, the Special Branch and the Supply and Transport Organisation in order to deal with the situation. It is argued that in its original form the latter was not only costly but politically dangerous and ineffective. Later developments were not only cheaper but based on a more sophisticated understanding of the political strengths of a modern state. The third chapter is concerned with the responses of British socialists to the state. It includes some discussion of theoretical influences, an examination of the attempts of the Communist Party to implement Lenin's teachings on state and revolution, and a discussion of the first Labour Government in respect of the implications for socialist strategies with regard to the state. The final chapter is concerned to argue that while superior organisation and resources played their part in the Government's victory in the General Strike, it was Baldwin's political manoeuvres which were the most important element of the campaign. In conclusion there is some discussion of attempts which have been made to characterise the development of the British state in this period. The reality, it is argued, was far more prosaic than many accounts would suggest. Politicians achieved the stability they sought but they did so not by dramatic innovation but by constant political endeavor based on marginal readjustment and this reapplication of traditional themes and structures.