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By Conference of Socialist Economists

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This point was generally unpalatable in terms of the political polarisation of the labour movement . The Communist Party could not bear the idea of a mass movement which was not revolutionary, and redoubled its efforts to render itself independent of alternative left leaderships by branding them 'reformist' and 'traitorous' to objective class interest . Hence a vicious series of exchanges between members of the Plebs executive in the pages of the Sunday Worker which displayed the bankruptcy of that-or any other-forum for 'left debate' .

The conditions which had made this mass movement for independent working class education possible were clearly specific to the early decades of the twentieth century . It arose at a time in which the British state was explicitly tackling the task of incorporation of the working class, and before the period in which the Labour Party was sufficiently developed to present itself as a means whereby workers could take on the state on its own terms . The situation which faced the working class was not, as it might have seemed in the late nineteenth century, one in which the bourgeoisie was in disarray and the workers could confidently claim that 'objective' science was on their side ; it was on the contrary a situation in which the bourgeoisie claimed science to themselves, and the working class movement had to challenge the supposed objectivites of common EDUCA TION FOR EMANCIPA TION 39 sense .

Their appeal to the unions was based on the argument that workers were entitled to the same quality of education as anyone else-an attack on the self-taught, hence inferior, status of the labour college tutors . [12] The TUC General Council however, saw these differences as relatively minor ; they were interested in an amalgamation of Ruskin and the Central Labour College under trade union financing, and the creation of a network of regional committees which could co-ordinate the work of the different educational bodies and force on them some degree of co-operation .

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Capital & Class. - 1980. - Issue 10 by Conference of Socialist Economists


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