John Strachey

British politician and writer (1901-1963)

Evelyn John St Loe Strachey (21 October 1901 – 15 July 1963) was a British Labour politician and writer.

John Strachey


The Coming Struggle for Power (1932)Edit

  • The fascist method essentially implies the attempt to create a popular mass movement for the protection of monopoly capitalism. Its adoption means that the directing capitalist groups consider that the regular State forces at their disposal are inadequate or unsuitable for repressing the workers. Thus, an attempt is made to create, by the employment of skilled demagogues, the expenditure of large sums of money, and the reckless dissemination of propaganda designed to play on every prejudice, a mass party composed of a petty bourgeois nucleus, combined with such backward workers and peasants as can be successfully deceived. This party is then used for the destruction by terror of working-class organizations of struggle, the workers' defence organizations, clubs, trade unions, newspapers and party machines.
    • p. 262
  • It is almost always impossible to get the fascist party together without using some anti-capitalist slogans, in the early stages at any rate, of the necessary propaganda. And this type of propaganda may have so coloured the minds of the rank and file of the Fascist party as to make them difficult adequately to control.
    • p. 262
  • The retention of power by the capitalist class by means of the success of a fascist party necessarily implies the scrapping of all democratic institutions. It involves revelation, without any attempt at a democratic disguise, of capitalist dictatorship. And a wise capitalist class will certainly not dispense with the serviceable mask of democracy, which has stood it in good stead, until no other course is open to it.
    • p. 262
  • The institutions of democracy will be gradually and, if possible, imperceptibly withdrawn. The Press will become a better and better directed and drilled servant of the capitalist class. All other methods of disseminating information, notably the cinema and the wireless, will be more and more consciously monopolized. Power may be gradually withdrawn from a democratically elected Chamber (cf . Reform of the House of Lords in Britain) or alternatively the franchise may be gradually curtailed (cf. the proposals of the British Conservative party for withholding the franchise from persons in receipt of poor relief). At the same time, the habitual regime of police violence will be increased (cf. the present heavy sentences on working-class militants in Britain passed almost openly, not for any specific offence but because the accused were working-class militants, as notably in the case of Arthur Homer; the increasing use of terror in all American wage disputes ; the police regime in France, etc., etc.). This method applies the principle of " the inevitability of gradualness " to the introduction of an open capitalist dictatorship.
    • p. 268

Quotes about StracheyEdit

  • Strachey [was] the most persuasive Marxist who has ever influenced this country's thinking.
    • Kingsley Martin, Editor: A Second Volume of Autobiography, 1931–45 (1968), p. 59
  • There is a nice story which is rather revealing about the power of Keynes's arguments and their political content. It is about John Strachey, a Marxist. He was a cousin of Lytton Strachey ― they both had the same skill in writing. John Strachey wrote a book called The Coming Struggle for Power. In the 1930s this book was so influential in Cambridge, England, that, when I got there, every person had it on his bookshelf, prominently displayed. It was an exciting book, intellectually exciting to read. It was the Bible of Cambridge students. In my last year at Cambridge Strachey was invited by the Marshall Society, which was the general undergraduate society for economics student, to give a talk. In this talk he argued that Marx showed us the way to make the system work, an argument that met a very, very strong favorable response ― as his earlier writing had done. I had been asked in advance to move a vote of thanks at the end of the lecture; say a few words, if I could, about his lecture, but essentially to move a vote of thanks.
    I did, except I took the occasion to say that there would appear ― this was in November 1935 ― within a few months a book that would set out a superior method of analysis. It had been written by John Maynard Keynes. I didn't know whether Strachey would know the name. He motioned to me and said, "I'd like to thank you for your vote of thanks," and so on; "I'd like to find out more about the book by Keynes." And I told him, and he took down the name. At the time, I did not realize the connection between Keynes and Lytton Strachey and Lytton and John Strachey.
    A couple of years later I received a new book by John Strachey in the mail from the Left Book Club. I was astounded; it was absolutely Keynes. I mean, he was so much influenced by Keynes ― he had been so strongly influenced by Keynes that he became an instant, overnight, follower. Strachey really understood Keynes; it's a brilliant exposition and application to the British situation. It's rather more interesting than Keynes and deserves to be reprinted. It shows how Keynes had refuted Communism and how John Strachey, an extreme Marxist whose life up to then had been devoted to Marx and the Marxian course, had been completely changed by Keynes. Given that history, the later attacks on U.S. Keynesians, accusing them of being Communists, were incomprehensible to me.
    • Lorie Tarshis, in interview (conducted on 30 September 1986), published in David C. Colander and Christian A. Johnson, The Coming of Keynesianism to America: Conversations with the Founders of Keynesian Economics (1996)

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