Guild socialism


Guild socialism

Guild socialism is a political movement advocating workers' control of industry through the medium of trade-related guilds. It originated in the United Kingdom and was at its most influential in the first quarter of the 20th century. It was strongly associated with G. D. H. Cole and influenced by the ideas of William Morris.

Guild socialism was partly inspired by the guilds of craftsmen and other skilled workers which had existed in England during the Middle Ages. In 1906, Arthur Penty published Restoration of the Gild System in which he opposed factory production and advocated a return to an earlier period of artisanal production organised through guilds. The following year, the journal The New Age became an advocate of guild socialism, although in the context of modern industry rather than the medieval setting favoured by Penty.

In 1914, S. G. Hobson, a leading contributor to The New Age, published National Guilds: An Inquiry into the Wage System and the Way Out. In this work, guilds were presented as an alternative to state-control of industry or conventional trade union activity. Guilds, unlike the existing trade unions, would not confine their demands to matters of wages and conditions but would seek to obtain control of industry for the workers whom they represented. Ultimately, industrial guilds would serve as the organs through which industry would be organised in a future socialist society.

Ernst Wigforss leading theorist of the Social Democratic Party of Sweden was also inspired and stood in ideology close to the ideas of Fabian Society and the Guild Socialism and inspired by people like R. H. Tawney, L.T. Hobhouse and J. A. Hobson. He made contributions in his early writings about Industrial democracy and Workers' self-management.

The theory of guild socialism was developed and popularised by G. D. H. Cole who formed the National Guilds League in 1915 and published several books on guild socialism, including Self-Government in Industry (1917) and Guild Socialism Restated (1920). A National Building Guild was established after World War I but collapsed in 1922.

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  • guild socialism — guild socialist. guild socialistic, adj. a form of socialism developed in England in the 20th century, emphasizing decentralization of industry and services with control to be vested in autonomous guilds of workers. [1910 15] * * * Movement that… …   Universalium

  • guild socialism — n. a form of socialism proposed in England in the early 20th cent., emphasizing government ownership of all industries, each to be managed by a guild of workers …   English World dictionary

  • guild socialism — noun a form of socialist theory advocating state ownership of industry but managements by guilds of workers • Hypernyms: ↑socialism * * * noun : a socialistic theory advocating state ownership of all industries with monopolistic control and… …   Useful english dictionary

  • guild socialism — guild′ so′cialism n. gov a form of socialism developed in England in the early 20th century in which guilds of workers were to manage government owned industry guild′ so′cialist, n …   From formal English to slang

  • guild socialism — /gɪld ˈsoʊʃəlɪzəm/ (say gild sohshuhlizuhm) noun British a form of socialism by which workers guilds manage and control government owned industry …   Australian English dictionary

  • guild socialism — noun Date: 1912 an early 20th century English socialistic theory advocating state ownership of industry with control and management by guilds of workers …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • guild socialist — guild socialist, a person who favors guild socialism …   Useful english dictionary

  • guild-so|cial|is|tic — «GIHLD SOH shuh LIHS tihk», adjective. of or having to do with guild socialism …   Useful english dictionary

  • socialism — /soh sheuh liz euhm/, n. 1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. 2. procedure or… …   Universalium

  • Socialism — This article is about socialism as an economic system and political philosophy. For socialism as a specific stage of socioeconomic development in Marxist theory, see Socialism (Marxism) …   Wikipedia


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