Guild Socialism Restated
First published in 1920, Guild Socialism Restated is G. D. H. Cole's fullest and most systematic account of his vision of industrial and political reorganization. An Oxford University political theorist and an influential figure on the British Left between the two world wars, Cole was the best-known advocate of Guild Socialism—a form of socialist thought that sought to transfer control of industry to professional "guilds" or self-governing associations of producers.
The introductory chapters of Guild Socialism Restated develop the theme of democratic citizenship in relation to industrial society. Cole contends that neither capitalism nor state socialism can adequately meet the fundamental requirements of democracy because neither provides institutions through which active citizenship can be achieved. He insists that the latter can be realized only in the realm of industrial relations. In so doing, Cole anticipates such contemporary themes as workers' self-management and participatory democracy, and he envisions also the corporatist mode of organization that some would see as a defining quality of postindustrial societies.
The central chapters of the book develop a view of socialist organization in which citizenship is a vital ingredient in every arena— from that of the workplace to national policymaking. Guild Socialism Restated is also notable for its effort to come to terms with nonindustrial interests, and to provide representations for individuals as consumers and citizens—not only as producers.
Cole's book concludes with an assessment of the transition to socialism. He proposes that there is a "third way" in addition to political reform and civil war—one that will be both revolutionary and gradual. Cole writes that "he who wishes revolution to succeed should hasten towards it slowly."