Advertisement

Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 98–112 | Cite as

‘Even the Conservatives would be socialists’: British Labour, American Democrats and the postwar transatlantic political economy

  • Gary Helm DardenEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article analyses the impact of the pivotal British Labour victory of 1945 within the larger continuum of reform over market and property relations in the postwar transatlantic political economy of the United States and Great Britain. Despite the seeming divergence of the American and British political economies after 1945 — one under the rubric of the regulatory reforms of the liberal Democratic party (1933–53), the other under the nationalizing reforms of the socialist Labour party (1945–51), respectively — the two nations, I argue, progressed in the long term along complementary stages of development conditioned by their own historical circumstances. These included not only the impact of the Depression and World War II on each society, but also the distinctive legacy and timing of British and American social reforms throughout the twentieth century.

Key words

Democratic party Labour party liberalism reform socialism 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    New York Times, 29 July 1945, 1.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See coverage in the New York Times, 29 July 1945, 1, 25A; 30 July 1945, 7A.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See the New York Times, 30 July 1945, 7A.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Unnamed London newspaper quoted in the New York Times, 30 July 1945, 7A.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See war damage statistics in Philip Ziegler, London At War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), 8, 337; Richard M. Titmus also quoted in Ziegler, London At War, 337; see alsoGoogle Scholar
  6. 5a.
    Francis Sheppard, London, A History (London: Oxford University Press, 1998), 337–38, 340.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    David Dimbley and David Reynolds, An Ocean Apart: The Relationship Between Britain and America in the Twentieth Century (New York: Random House, 1988), 176.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    See casualties chart in Harold Evans, The American Century (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), 385; for British war statistics see Ziegler, London At War, 8, 337; Sheppard, London, 337–8, 340; Dimbley and Reynolds, An Ocean Apart, 176.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    See statistics in Ziegler, London At War, 8, 337; Sheppard, London, 337–8, 340.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Certainly the September 11 tragedy of 2001 broadly mobilised municipal, state and federal powers and earmarked tens of billions of dollars for reconstruction and relief costs.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Godfrey Hodgson, America In Our Time: From World War II To Nixon, What Happened And Why (New York: Vintage Books, 1976), 19.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Letter, Joseph E. Davies to Marjorie Post (wife), 30 May 1945, Box 17, Davies Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    For the Labour party in the War Coalition, see Paul Addison, The Road to 1945 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1975), 106 and appendix, 279–80; Attlee quoted inGoogle Scholar
  14. 12a.
    Kenneth Harris, Attlee (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1982), 178.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    President Harry Truman sent Ambassador Joseph E. Davies as his Special Envoy to meet with Churchill after VE-Day in May 1945; Letter, Davies to Marjorie Post, 30 May 1945, Box 17, Davies Papers, Library of Congress.Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    Addison, The Road to 1945, 261.Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    Attlee quoted in Addison, The Road to 1945, 261.Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    See the classic argument of Eduard Bernstein, Evolutionary Socialism: A Criticism and Affirmation, trans. Edith C. Harvey (New York: Schocken Books, 1961); see alsoGoogle Scholar
  19. 16a.
    Peter Gay, The Dilemma of Democratic Socialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952).Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    T.O. Lloyd, Empire, Welfare State, Europe: English History, 1906–1992 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 270–1.Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    Diary entry, 13 November 1945, quoted in John Morton Blum, ed., The Price of Vision: The Diary of Henry A. Wallace (New York: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1973), 512.Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    Labourite Francis Williams on Attlee quoted in Addison, The Road to 1945, 270.Google Scholar
  23. 20.
    Francis Williams, ed., Twilight of Empire: Memoirs of Prime Minister Clement Attlee (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1962), 71, 59–60.Google Scholar
  24. 21.
    Letter, Dean Acheson to Mary A. Bundy, 30 July 1945, quoted in David S. McLellan and David C. Acheson, eds., Among Friends: Personal Letters of Dean Acheson (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1980), 61.Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    Editorial, ‘New PM’, Washington Post, 28 July 1945.Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    Editorial, ‘The British Election’, Chicago Tribune, 27 July 1945.Google Scholar
  27. 24.
    Addison, The Road to 1945, 273.Google Scholar
  28. 25.
    Addison, The Road to 1945, 273; Jytte Klausen, War and Welfare (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1998), 61–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 25a.
    Kenneth O. Morgan, Labour in Power, 1945–1951 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 98–110; andGoogle Scholar
  30. 25b.
    Morgan, The People’s Peace: British History, 1945–1989 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 33, 36–9.Google Scholar
  31. 26.
    Toynbee quoted in John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1967), 98.Google Scholar
  32. 27.
    Klausen, War and Welfare, 91-2.Google Scholar
  33. 28.
    Samuel H. Beer, Modern British Politics (London: Faber, 1965), 194Google Scholar
  34. 28a.
    Donald Winch, Economics and Policy (London: Fontana, 1972), 296, 299; see also Addison, The Road to 1945, 21 A; see Morgan, The People’s Peace, Chapter 3, for analysis of what he labels the ‘collectivist retreat’ between 1948 and 1951.Google Scholar
  35. 29.
    Klausen, War and Welfare, 60; see also Beer, Modern British Politics, 194; Addison, The Road to 1945, 274.Google Scholar
  36. 30.
    Klausen, War and Welfare, 60; see also Galbraith, The New Industrial State, Chapter 9, particularly pp. 100–1.Google Scholar
  37. 31.
    For Great Society reforms see: Sidney M. Milkis & Jerome M. Mileur, eds., The Great Society and The High Tide of Liberalism (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005)Google Scholar
  38. 31a.
    John A. Andrews, Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 1999)Google Scholar
  39. 31b.
    Irwin Unger, The Best of Intentions: The Triumph and Failure of the Great Society Under Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon (New York: Doubleday, 1996). For comparison of ending Jim Crow segregation in the US South with Decolonization in the European Empires, seeGoogle Scholar
  40. 31c.
    Gary Helm Darden, ‘The New Empire in the “New South”: Jim Crow in the Global Frontier of High Imperialism & Decolonization’, Southern Quarterly, 46, no. 3 (2009), 8–25.Google Scholar
  41. 32.
    Martin J. Sklar, The United States as a Developing Country (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 214 (‘Mix’), 18 (Great Society). For postwar discontinuity on liberal reform in America (with applicable comparisons for Britain), seeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 32a.
    Richard Polenberg, War and Society: The United States, 1941–1945 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1972), andGoogle Scholar
  43. 32b.
    Alan Brinkley, The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), who both argue that the end of World War II marked the defeat of liberal reform in America, while it marked a renewal of reform in Britain.Google Scholar
  44. 33.
    Klausen, War and Welfare, 29–31.Google Scholar
  45. 34.
    For New Deal programs see William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932–1940 (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1963), 48–52, 54–5, 164–5, 255Google Scholar
  46. 34a.
    Robert S. McElvaine, The Great Depression: America, 1929–1941 (New York: New York Times Books, 1984), 148–9, 155》-6; and especially Sklar, The United States as a Developing Country, 18, 35, 45.Google Scholar
  47. 35.
    Citing both the TVA and AAA as methods of statist planning, see Charles S. Maier, In Search of Stability: Explorations in Historical Political Economy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 129.Google Scholar
  48. 36.
    Adam Cohen, ‘Roosevelt Understood the Power of a Public Option’, New York Times, 1 December 2009, A34; see also Cohen, Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America (New York: Penguin Press, 2009).Google Scholar
  49. 37.
    Cohen, ‘Roosevelt Understood the Power of a Public Option’.Google Scholar
  50. 38.
    Morgan, The People’s Peace, 32; Daniel T. Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1998), 487.Google Scholar
  51. 39.
    Johnson and Waugh quoted in Paul Johnson, Churchill (London: Viking, 2009), 153–4.Google Scholar
  52. 40.
    The exception to this in Britain was the Conservative’s repeal in 1953 of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947, whose development levy prevented land from going on the market; see Addison, The Road to 1945, 273–4.Google Scholar
  53. 41.
    Sklar, The United States as a Developing Country, 73–4.Google Scholar
  54. 42.
    Morgan, The People’s Peace, 36.Google Scholar
  55. 43.
    Alfred D. Chandler, Jr, Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1990), 250; for role of US governmental power in global trade, or what she terms ‘liberal developmentalism’, seeGoogle Scholar
  56. 43a.
    Emily Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expression, 1890–1945 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982).Google Scholar
  57. 44.
    Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1990), 235–7.Google Scholar
  58. 45.
    Chandler, Scale and Scope, 335; see also James Livingston, Origins of the Federal Reserve System: Money, Class, and Corporate Capitalism, 1890–1913 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), 65–6Google Scholar
  59. 45a.
    PL. Payne, ‘The Emergence of the Large-Scale Company in Great Britain, 1870–1914’, Economic History Review, 2d ser. 20 (1967), 519–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 45b.
    Leslie Hannah, The Rise of the Corporate Economy (London: Methuen, 1976), 16–28, 82-3.Google Scholar
  61. 46.
    David Sanders, Losing an Empire, Finding a Role: British Foreign Policy since 1945 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989), 47; for the impact of the war on US corporations, see Maier, In Search of Stability, 126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 46a.
    William L. O’Neill, Democracy at War: America’s Fight at Home and Abroad in World War II (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  63. 47.
    Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings, 411–12.Google Scholar
  64. 48.
    Quoted in William E. Leuchtenburg, ‘The Great Depression’, in The Comparative Approach to American History, ed. C. Vann Woodward (New York: Basic Books, 1968), 303.Google Scholar
  65. 49.
    See Edwin Amenta and Theda Skocpol, ‘Redefining the New Deal: World War II and the Development of Social Provision in the United States’, in The Politics of Social Policy in the United States, eds. Margaret Weir, Anna Shola Orloff, and Theda Skocpol (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 82–3; Klausen, War and Welfare, 49–52; Morgan, The People’s Peace, 21, 37, 61; and Addison, The Road to 1945, Chapter 8.Google Scholar
  66. 50.
    Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings, 491.Google Scholar
  67. 51.
    Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings, 494.Google Scholar
  68. 52.
    Morgan, The People’s Peace, 30.Google Scholar
  69. 53.
    Amenta and Skocpol, ‘Redefining the New Deal’, 82. See also Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (Cambridge, MA: 1992); alsoGoogle Scholar
  70. 53a.
    Alice Kessler-Harris, ‘In the Nation’s Image: The Gendered Limits of Social Citizenship in the Depression Era’, Journal of American History 86, no. 3 (1999), 1251–79. While Amenta and Skocpol privilege differences in political traditions and structures to explain the enactment of social legislation, Kessler-Harris asserts that gendered and racial barriers precluded a more uniform and nationalised social policy in the United States.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 54.
    Letter, Special Envoy & Ambassador Joseph E. Davies to Senator Millard Tydings (Democrat, Maryland), 26 July 1945, Box 19, Davies Papers, Library of Congress.Google Scholar
  72. 55.
    Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings, 486.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations