From International Socialism (1st series), No.35,Winter 1968/69, p.42.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Socialist Register, 1968
Anybody who suffers from insomnia and does not want to resort to drugs should take The Socialist Register. It is definitely sleep-inducing but non-addictive. The book creates its soporific effect by combining the bad features of the ‘old’ – that is to say, 1956 vintage – New Left: academic sterility; detachment from the class struggle and a concern about expressing the simplest concepts in the most convoluted way.
This is not to maintain that all The Socialist Register is bad. Just as previous editions contained the occasional good article – Edward Thompson on British history and Hamza Alavi on the peasantry immediately spring to mind – so this year’s is not completely sterile. The piece by Dr V.L. Allen on the TUC’s centenary is extremely valuable. He shows quite clearly that, right from the start, the trade union leaders sought to confine their activities within the capitalist framework. But Dr Allen’s article is the only one in the volume that directly relates to Britain. Yet, if The Socialist Register were to make an important theoretical contribution, then necessarily a lot of what it had to say would be about this country. Revolutionary socialists here need help with numerous problems. Such assistance, however, can only come from writers who not only deal with the struggle in Britain but also take a deeply committed part in it.
Last updated: 5.1.2008