George Douglas Howard Cole

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cole, George Douglas Howard


Born Sept. 25, 1889, in London; died there Jan. 14, 1959. An English historian, economist, and sociologist, he held reformist positions.

Cole graduated from Oxford University in 1919. In 1925 he began teaching at Oxford, and from 1944 to 1957 he was a professor at the university. He joined the Independent Labour Party and the Fabian Society in 1908. He served as chairman of the Fabian Society from 1939 to 1946 and from 1948 to 1950, becoming its president in 1952.

Cole was one of the theoreticians of “guild socialism.” An integral part of his guild theory was the advocacy, particularly in the 1940’s and 1950’s, of cooperation between labor and capital. Cole related the distinctive features of the British labor movement to changes in Great Britain’s position and role in the world, and in his works he presented the history of the class struggle of the British workers soberly and often sympathetically. However, he did not believe in the revolutionary potential of British labor (with the exception of certain works written in the 1920’s). Analyzing the position of Europe between the two world wars, Cole decisively condemned fascism, but he never came to understand the class roots of fascist ideology. Occupying basically reformist positions and propagandizing the idea of creation of a “mixed economy,” Cole nevertheless frequently criticized the defects of the capitalist system and the policies of Labour Party leaders, in particular the policies of the Labour governments of 1929–31 and 1945–51. Unlike many other Social Democratic leaders, Cole supported cooperation between socialists and communists in the struggle against imperialist policies.


Guild Socialism Re-stated. London, 1921.
British Working Class Politics: 1832–1914. London, 1941.
The People’s Front. London, 1937.
Chartist Portraits. London, 1941.
Fabian Socialism. London, 1943.
The British Common People: 1746–1946, 2nd ed. New York, 1947. (Together with R. Postgate.)
A History of the Labour Party From 1914. London, 1948.
Essays in Social Theory. London, 1950.
Introduction to Economic History: 1750–1950. London, 1952.
A History of Socialist Thought, vols. 1–5. London-New York, 1953–60.
Studies in Class Structure. London, 1955.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.