Neal Lawson, chair of Compass, nominates Colin Crouch as the most influential left-winger thinker 2011/12; if you’d like to submit a nomination for someone on the left who has made a contribution to advancing left-wing ideas or concepts in the past year, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
As the crisis of capitalism and therefore social democracy deepens, we might very well ask what is the point of social democracy if it can’t stop capitalism eating itself, with pygmy-like thinking becoming more and more stark.
Who is our Marx, Bernstein, Beveridge or Keynes?
Someone who stands out better than most to me is Professor Colin Crouch. Colin has recently retired from the Business School at Warwick after a long and illustrious academic career in Britain and Europe as well as being a former chair of the Fabians.
But he hasn’t stopped writing or thinking and mustn’t.
Colin is different because he thinks strategically across a range of disciplines - work, business, Europe and political strategy.
The best of his recent work includes ‘Post Democracy’, ‘Private Keynesianism’, ‘The Strange Non Death of Neo-Liberalism’ and his most recent lecture at the LSE on ‘Social democracy as the highest form of liberalism’.
In every intervention Colin calmly unpicks the contradiction in capitalism and points the way for the continual reform of social democracy. He operates in the space between despair and groundless hope – a realist who believes in social democracy before he believes in Labour.
His tempered optimism is rooted in the belief that social democracy must be a pluralist creed if it is to successfully re-engage in the endless cycle of struggle with capitalism.
The creation of spaces and coalitions of resistance, rather than the construction of an all encompassing state, is what defined the best of social democracy in the past and must do again in the future.
As we stand on the ideological rubble of both Neo-liberalism and the old social democracy, no one person has the answer – they never did - but Colin Crouch has better answers than most.