Evan Durbin (1906–1948)

  • Catherine EllisEmail author


Evan Durbin was a democratic socialist, an economist and a politician. In the 1930s, his work was central to the Labour Party’s adoption of economic planning. During and after the Second World War, Durbin championed a socialist planned economy that maximized individual liberty and rejected sectional interests. He was elected as a Labour Member of Parliament in 1945 and served as a junior minister in Clement Attlee’s government. His distinctive formulation of socialism melded economics with ethics and insights drawn from psychology and psychoanalysis, underpinned by a belief in the superiority of English values and institutions. Durbin’s ethical vision and interest in affluence, voter psychology and managerialism informed Labour’s policy debates in the 1950s and ensured the continued relevance of his ideas.


Durbin History of socialism Labour Party Economic planning LSE Fabian society Ethical socialism John Bowlby Hugh Gaitskell 


Main Works by Evan Durbin

  1. Durbin, E.F.M. (1933a). Purchasing Power and Trade Depression: A Critique of Under-Consumption Theories. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  2. Durbin, E.F.M. (1933b). Socialist Credit Policy. New Fabian Research Bureau Pamphlet No. 15. London: Fabian Society. Revised and reprinted as NFRB Pamphlet No. 26, 1935.Google Scholar
  3. Durbin, E.F.M. (1935a). The Problem of Credit Policy. London: Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Durbin, E.F.M. (1935b). ‘The Importance of Planning’. Chapter IX in G.E.G. Catlin (ed.) New Trends in Socialism. London: Lovat Dickson & Thompson: 145–166.Google Scholar
  5. Durbin, E.F.M. (1935c). ‘The Response of the Economists to the Ethical Ideal of Equality’. In The Ethical Factor in Economic Thought. London: The Ethical Union: 13–25.Google Scholar
  6. Durbin, E.F.M. (1935). ‘The Social Significance of the Theory of Value’. Economic Journal, 45(180): 700–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Durbin, E.F.M. (1936). ‘Economic Calculus in a Planned Economy’. Economic Journal, 46(184): 676–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Durbin, E.F.M. (1937). ‘A Note on Mr. Lerner’s “Dynamical” Propositions’. Economic Journal, 47(187): 577–581.Google Scholar
  9. Durbin, E.F.M. (1938). ‘Methods of Research—A Plea for Co-operation in the Social Sciences’. Economic Journal, 48(190): 183–195.Google Scholar
  10. Durbin, E.F.M. (1939). How to Pay for the War. London: George Routledge and Sons.Google Scholar
  11. Durbin, E.F.M. (1940). The Politics of Democratic Socialism: An Essay on Social Policy. London: George Routledge and Sons.Google Scholar
  12. Durbin, E.F.M. (1942). What Have We To Defend? A Brief Critical Examination of the British Social Tradition. London: George Routledge and Sons.Google Scholar
  13. Durbin, E.F.M. (1943). ‘Economists and the Future Functions of the State’. Political Quarterly, 14(3): 256–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Durbin, E.F.M. (1945). ‘Professor Hayek on Economic Planning and Political Liberty’. Economic Journal, 55(220): 357–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Durbin, E.F.M. (1948). ‘The Economic Problems Facing the Labour Government’. Chapter I in D. Munro (ed.) Socialism the British Way. London: Essential Books: 3–29.Google Scholar
  16. Durbin, E.F.M. (1949a). Problems of Economic Planning: Papers on Planning and Economics. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  17. Durbin, E.F.M. (1949b). ‘Economics and the Scientific Method’. Chapter XII in W.A. Lewis et al. (ed.) Economics: Man and His Material Resources. London: Odhams Press: 321–338.Google Scholar
  18. Durbin, E.F.M. and J. Bowlby (1938). ‘Personal Aggressiveness and War’. Essay 1 in E.F.M. Durbin and G. Catlin (eds) War and Democracy: Essays on the Causes and Prevention of War. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co: 3–150.Google Scholar
  19. Durbin, E.F.M. and J. Bowlby (1939). Personal Aggressiveness and War. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.Google Scholar

Other Works Referred To

  1. Beech, M. and K. Hickson (2007). ‘Evan Durbin’. Chapter 5 in Labour’s Thinkers: The Intellectual Roots of Labour from Tawney to Gordon Brown. London: Tauris Academic Studies: 77–99.Google Scholar
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  3. Brooke, S. (1989). ‘Revisionists and Fundamentalists: The Labour Party and Economic Policy During the Second World War’. Historical Journal, 32(1): 157–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brooke, S. (1991). ‘Problems of “Socialist Planning”: Evan Durbin and the Labour Government of 1945’. Historical Journal, 34(3): 687–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brooke, S. (1992). Labour’s War: The Labour Party during the Second World War. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brooke, S. (1996). ‘Evan Durbin: Reassessing a Labour “Revisionist”’. Twentieth Century British History, 7(1): 27–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  11. Ellis, C. (2004a). ‘Durbin, Evan Frank Mottram (1906–1948)’. In B. Harrison (ed.) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online edition. Available at:
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  28. Nuttall, J. (2003). ‘“Psychological Socialist”; “Militant Moderate”: Evan Durbin and the Politics of Synthesis’. Labour History Review, 68(2): 235–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryRyerson UniversityTorontoCanada

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