Jeremy Nuttall

in Psychological Socialism

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780719071645
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701539 | DOI:

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Before the 1980s, the Labour Party could electorally afford to give little systematic attention to the issue of qualities of mind and character. However, the revival of the political right from 1979 onwards forced socialists to assess their own interpretation of ‘human nature’ more openly in various ways. This chapter therefore makes some reference to the Conservatives' approach to qualities of mind and character as a means of illuminating that of their main opponents. The Conservative Party won four consecutive elections between 1979 and 1992. Central to their political dominance was an intellectual factor: the right's apparently perceptive understanding of ‘human nature’. For Margaret Thatcher, ‘self-interest will generally prevail in the real world’. It is not clear why David Marquand dismissed the potential of ‘kindly altruism’, or how, in a liberal society, doing one's duty would be achieved without kindly altruism. This chapter also focuses on Neil Kinnock and the issue of responsible behaviour in politics, ‘soft socialism’, and the continuing prioritisation of economics by both Conservatives and Labour.

Keywords: Labour Party; self-interest; human nature; Conservative Party; Margaret Thatcher; kindly altruism; David Marquand; Neil Kinnock; soft socialism; economics

Chapter.  15834 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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