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Vladmir Ilyich Lenin

Robert Owen

Karl Marx

Friedrich Engels

Eduard Bernstein

Vladmir Ilyich Lenin

Samuel Gompers

Eugene V. Debs

Benito Mussolini

Clement Atlee

Julius Nyerere

Mao Zedong

Deng Xiaoping

Mikhail Gorbachev

Karl blair

CLEMENT ATTLEE       1883-1967

Clement Atlee
Clement Atlee
(Library of Congress)

The rise of Communism and Fascism horrified many socialists. They were anguished by the awful deeds carried out in the name of their own cherished ideals. When the smoke of two world wars finally cleared, they set out to reclaim the humane essence of the socialist idea. These social democrats believed they could create a better society through peaceful, parliamentary methods.

Their most important exemplar was British Labour Party leader Clement Attlee, the son of a wealthy barrister. Attlee was a hearty patriot, who stormed Gallipoli in World War One and insisted on returning to battle more than once against medical orders. Moreover, he was a traditional monarchist who conspired with the Tories to force King Edward to abdicate for marrying an American divorcee. Attlee served during World War Two as deputy Prime Minister in Winston Churchill's war cabinet. But shortly after the end of the war, Attlee pulled the electoral upset of the century in Britain, trouncing Churchill. Attlee’s platform promised to employ the same command methods that the government had used to defeat the Nazis. The Labour Party assured Britons that the peacetime economy could produce a bounty of goods and services for the whole war-weary population.

Political Cartoon of Clement Atlee
Political Cartoon of Clement Atlee
(Library of Congress)

After winning the 1945 election, Attlee and the Labour Party nationalized major industries like coal, rail, steel and electricity. He created a national health system and a national pension program that became the cornerstones of the British welfare system. In 1955 Attlee lost to Winston Churchill, but most of his socialist legislative victories remained in place up until the election of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party in 1979.



For more information, read interviews with:

Roy Hattersley
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (1983-1992)
Author, Choose Freedom: The Future for Democratic Socialism

Christopher Hitchens
Author, Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship

Tony Wright
Labour Member of Parliament
Author, Socialisms: Old and New


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