The Limits of Liberalism: Working-Class Formation in Britain and the United States



In the wake of the collapse of Stalinism in eastern Europe, the increasing globalisation of capital and its attendant social relations, the defeats and retreats of labour-movement collectivism and Social Democracy, and their accelerated accommodation to the rule of ‘The Market’, democratic and market-based liberalism, whether of the deregulated or ‘social-market’ based variety, has become all the rage in western political and academic circles. This observation holds true for both those besuited and stridently ascendant ‘rational-choice’ theorists who dominate many of the international conferences of political scientists and economists and, ironically, for many of those subscribing to the more sceptical, anti-systemic and relativist tenets of post-modernism. Modern-day liberalism, complete with its proclamations in favour of the natural qualities of (largely unfettered) individualism and competition, market-embeddedness and the pursuit of the ‘main chance’, the individual maximisation of pleasure, flexibility, and choice, the minimisation of individual pain, and the superior claims of the ‘self’ over the ‘social’, has become the new master narrative of the late twentieth century.


Labour Movement Labour Party Independent Labour Radical Liberalism Master Narrative 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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