Laski, Harold Joseph

Laski, Harold Joseph

(lăs`kē), 1893–1950, British political scientist, economist, author, and lecturer. A graduate of New College, Oxford, he taught at McGill Univ. (1914–16) and Harvard (1916–20). In 1920 he joined the faculty of the London School of Economics and in 1926 became professor of political science there, a position he held for the rest of his life. A member (1922–36) of the executive committee of the Fabian SocietyFabian Society,
British socialist society. An outgrowth of the Fellowship of the New Life (founded 1883 under the influence of Thomas Davidson), the society was developed the following year by Frank Podmore and Edward Pease.
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, Laski became a member of the Labour party executive committee in 1936 and was chairman of the party in 1945–46. He also held various official and semiofficial government posts. However, he is best known for his books on political science and for his speeches in Britain and the United States on political, social, and economic trends. Politically, Laski moved from an early belief in antistatist pluralism to the conviction that the state had to take the lead in socialist reform. His books include Studies in the Problem of Sovereignty (1917), Authority in the Modern State (1919), Political Thought in England from Locke to Bentham (1920), Karl Marx (1921), Communism (1927), Democracy in Crisis (1933), The American Presidency (1940), Faith, Reason, and Civilisation (1944), The American Democracy (1948), and Liberty in the Modern State (rev. ed. 1948).

Bibliography

See Holmes-Laski Letters (2 vol.,1953); biography by K. Martin (1953); H. Deane, The Political Ideas of Harold Laski (1955, repr. 1972).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Laski, Harold Joseph

 

Born June 30, 1893, in Manchester; died Mar. 24, 1950, in London. English sociologist, figure of the Labor Party, reformist.

Laski was educated at Oxford. From 1914 to 1920 he taught at universities in Canada and the USA. In 1926 he became a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. From 1936 to 1949 he was a member of the executive committee of the Labor Party; in 1945 he became chairman of that committee. Laski was one of the theoreticians behind “democratic socialism,” the ideological sources for which he attempted to find in Christianity. He held that the transformation of society would be accomplished as the result of the moral improvement of individuals rather than by revolutionary means. Laski denied the class character of the state.

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