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Study notes

Anthony Crosland (1918−77)

  • Levels: A Level, IB
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, IB

Anthony Crosland was a British politician closely associated with the social democratic strand of thought.

Unlike those further to the left of the political spectrum, Anthony Crosland firmly believed that socialism could be achieved via humanising the capitalist system.

As a moderate within the socialist movement, Crosland focused his mind and political energies upon practical achievements rather than theoretical abstractions. As with the Webbs, Crosland was a member of the Fabian Society and believed that socialists must adopt to changing circumstances. Whilst himself something of an intellectual, Crosland was primarily concerned with the reality of achieving the objectives of social justice and egalitarianism. He is best-known for his influential work ‘The Future of Socialism.’

Crosland could be said to exemplify the main tenants of social democracy and the parliamentary-style of socialism of the post-war consensus (in which he said that Britain had “ceased to be a capitalist country” due to the policies implemented by the Attlee government). This is an argument that would never persuade a democratic socialist or a revolutionary socialist, but one that makes sense in the context of what social democrats seek to achieve.

Crosland was only interested in that which would improve the lives of working people. For instance, he downplayed public ownership of the means of production and instead prioritised the end of poverty and better public services. Crosland was also a key figure behind the move towards comprehensive education during the 1960s and 70s.

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