G. D. H. Cole
G. D. H. Cole
25 September 1889|
|Died||14 January 1959
School or tradition
George Douglas Howard Cole (25 September 1889 – 14 January 1959) was an English political theorist, economist, writer and historian. As a libertarian socialist he was a long-time member of the Fabian Society and an advocate for the Co-operative movement. He and his wife Margaret Cole (1893–1980) together wrote many popular detective stories, featuring the investigators Superintendent Wilson, Everard Blatchington and Dr Tancred.
As a conscientious objector during World War One, Cole's involvement in the campaign against conscription introduced him to a co-worker, Margaret Postgate, whom he married in 1918. The couple both worked for the Fabian Society for the next six years before moving to Oxford, where Cole started writing for the Manchester Guardian. During these years, he also authored several economic and historical works including biographies of William Cobbett and Robert Owen. In 1925, he became reader in economics at University College, Oxford. In 1944, Cole became the first Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford. He was succeeded in the chair by Isaiah Berlin in 1957.
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Cole became interested in Fabianism while studying at Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the Fabian Society's executive under the sponsorship of Sidney Webb. Cole became a principal proponent of Guild Socialist ideas, a libertarian socialist alternative to Marxist political economy. These ideas he put forward in The New Age before and during the First World War, and also in the pages of The New Statesman, the weekly founded by the Webbs and George Bernard Shaw.
I became a Socialist because, as soon as the case for a society of equals, set free from the twin evils of riches and poverty, mastership and subjection, was put to me, I knew that to be the only kind of society that could be consistent with human decency and fellowship and that in no other society could I have the right to be content."
Neither a Marxist nor a Social Democrat, Cole envisioned a Socialism of decentralized association and active, participatory democracy, whose basic units would be sited at the workplace and in the community rather than in any central apparatus of the State.
Cole wrote at least seven books for the Left Book Club, all of which were published by Victor Gollancz Ltd. These are marked with LBC in the list of his books given below.
Although Cole admired the Soviet Union for creating a socialist economy, he rejected its dictatorial government as a model for socialist societies elsewhere. In a 1939 lecture, Cole stated:
If I do not accept Stalin's answer, it is because I am not prepared to write off Democratic Socialism, despite all its failures and vacillations of recent years, as a total loss...Democratic Socialism offers the only means of building the new order on what is valuable and worth preserving in the civilization of to-day.
In his book Europe, Russia and the Future published in 1941, Cole claimed that however immoral the new Nazi-dominated Europe was, in some ways it was better than the "impracticable" system of sovereign states that had preceded it. In economic terms it could be said that "it would be better to let Hitler conquer all Europe short of the Soviet Union, and thereafter exploit it ruthlessly in the Nazi interest, than to go back to the pre-war order of independent Nation States with frontiers drawn so as to cut right across the natural units of production and exchange". Cole also stated: "I would much sooner see the Soviet Union, even with its policy unchanged, dominant over all Europe, including Great Britain, than see an attempt to restore the pre-war States to their futile and uncreative independence and their petty economic nationalism under capitalist domination. Much better be ruled by Stalin than by the destructive and monopolistic cliques which dominate Western capitalism".
Cole was also a theorist of the Co-operative movement, and has made a number of contributions to the fields of Co-operative studies, Co-operative economics and the study of Co-operative History. In particular, his book "The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society" examined the economic status of the English CWS (the predecessor of the modern Co-operative Group), evaluated its possibility of achieving a Co-operative Commonwealth without State assistance, and hypothesised what the role the Co-operative movement might have in a Socialist State.
A second book, A Century of Co-operation, examined the history of the Co-operative movement from the very first Co-operatives, to the contribution of the Chartists and Robert Owen, through to the Rochdale Pioneers, as well as the movement's development (in Great Britain) over the following century.
Cole contributed to the omnibus An Outline of Modern Knowledge Ed. William Rose (Victor Gollancz, 1931) along with other leading authorities of the time, including Roger Fry, C. G. Seligman, Maurice Dobb and F. J. C. Hearnshaw.
- The World of Labour (1913), revised 1920
- Labour in War Time (1915)
- Trade Unionism on the Railways with R Page Arnot (1917)
- Self-Government in Industry (1917), revised 1920
- The Payment of Wages (1918)
- The Regulation of Wages During and After the War (1918)
- An Introduction to Trade Unionism (1918)
- Labour in the Commonwealth(1919)
- Social Theory (1920)
- Guild Socialism Restated (1920)
- Chaos and Order in Industry (1920)
- The Future of Local Government (1921)
- Rousseau's Social Contract and Discourses edited and translated in Everyman's Library (1923)
- Robert Owen (1923)
- Workshop Organization (1923)
- Trade Unionism and Munitions (1923)
- The Life of William Cobbett (1925)
- Some essentials of socialist propaganda (1932)
- The Intelligent Man's Guide through World Chaos (1932)
- The Intelligent Man's Review of Europe Today with Margaret Cole (1933)
- Studies in World Economics (1934)
- The Condition of Britain (with his wife, Margaret Cole, 1937) LBC
- The People's Front (1937) LBC
- Practical Economics(1937) Pelican Books, London
- Persons & Periods (1938)
- The war on the home front (1939)
- War Aims (1939) LBC
- Europe, Russia and the Future (1941) LBC
- Great Britain in the Post-War World (1942) LBC
- The Fabian Society, past and present (1942)
- Monetary Systems and Theories (1943)
- The Means to Full Employment (1943) LBC
- A Century of Cooperation (1944)
- The Common People, 1746–1946 (with Raymond Postgate, 1946)
- A Short History of the British Working Class Movement, 1789–1947 (1947) ISBN 0-415-26564-9
- A History of the Labour Party from 1914, (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1948)
- Consultation or joint management? (1949)
- Labour's second term (1949)
- The Meaning of Marxism, (1950) LBC
- The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society, (London, G. Allen & Unwin 1951)
- Introduction to Economic History 1750–1950, (London: Macmillan 1952)
- Capitalism in the modern world (1957)
- A History of Socialist Thought: 7 Volumes, (London: Palgrave Macmillan (2003) ISBN 1-4039-0264-X)
- Cole, G. D. H. (1923) The Brooklyn Murders
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1925) The Death of a Millionaire
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1926) The Blatchington Tangle
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1927) The Murder at Crome House
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1928) The Man from the River
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1928) Superintendent Wilson's Holiday
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1929) Poison in the Garden Suburb aka Poison in a Garden Suburb
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1930) Burglars in Bucks aka The Berkshire Mystery
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1930) Corpse in Canonicalsaka The Corpse in the Constable's Garden
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1931) The Great Southern Mystery aka The Walking Corpse
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1931) Dead Man's Watch
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1932) Death of a Star
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) A Lesson in Crime (short stories)
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) The Affair at Aliquid
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) End of an Ancient Mariner
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1934) Death in the Quarry
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Big Business Murder
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Dr Tancred Begins
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Scandal at School aka The Sleeping Death
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1936) Last Will and Testament
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1936) The Brothers Sackville
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1937) Disgrace to the College
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1937) The Missing Aunt
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1938) Mrs Warrender's Profession
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1938) Off with her Head!
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1939) Double Blackmail
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1939) Greek Tragedy
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Wilson and Some Others
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Murder at the Munition Works
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Counterpoint Murder
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1941) Knife in the Dark
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1942) Toper's End
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1945) Death of a Bride
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1946) Birthday Gifts
- Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. (1948) The Toys of Death
- "George Douglas Howard Cole Papers", p. 3. Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Amsterdam. On line.
- Martin Ceadel, "The Peace Movement Between the Wars: Problems of Definition", in Campaigns for Peace : British peace movements. Edited by Richard Taylor and Nigel Young. Manchester University Press, 1987. ISBN 0719018927 (p. 84).
- G. D. H Cole, "World Socialism Restated," pamphlet (1956), quoted by Margaret Cole, The Life of G. D. H. Cole, Macmillan/St. Martin's (1971); cited, Harry Barnes, Three Score Years and Ten (July 24, 2006).
- Peter Sedgwick, "A Return to First Things", Balliol College Annual Record 1980, pp.86–88 (review of A. W. Wright, G.D.H. Cole and Socialist Democracy). Marxists’ Internet Archive. Online.
- Daniel Ritschel, The Politics of Planning: The Debate on Economic Planning in Britain in the 1930s. Oxford University Press, 1997 ISBN 019820647X (pp. 282–83)
- "The Decline of Capitalism". Lecture to Fabian Society, 1939. Quoted in A. W. Wright, G. D. H. Cole and Socialist Democracy. Clarendon Press, 1979. ISBN 0-19-827421-1 (p. 226).
- G. D. H. Cole, Europe, Russia and the Future (London: Victor Gollancz, 1941), p. 104.
- Cole, Europe, Russia and the Future, p. 104.
- Cole, G.D.H., "The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society: A Report for the Fabian Society”, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1951.
- Cole, G.D.H., A Century of Co-operation, Oxford: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1944.
- Margaret Cole, The Life of G. D. H. Cole, Macmillan/St. Martin's (1971) ISBN 1-4191-0535-3
- A. W. (Tony) Wright, G. D. H. Cole and Socialist Democracy New York, Oxford (1979) ISBN 0-19-827421-1
- L. P. Carpenter, G.D.H. Cole: An Intellectual Biography, Cambridge (1974) ISBN 0-521-08702-3
- C. Wyatt, "A recipe for a cookshop of the future: G. D. H. Cole and the conundrum of sovereignty" Capital and Class 90 (2006)
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- Archival material relating to G. D. H. Cole listed at the UK National Archives
- Guild Socialism (1920)
- Some Essentials Of Socialist Propaganda (1932)
- The War On The Home Front (1939)
- Capitalism in The Modern World (1957)
- New Statesman article on G.D.H. Cole (2012)
- In Memory of G.D.H. Cole by Ray Challinor.
- Mike Grost on the detective novels