The Acquisitive Society

The Acquisitive Society

The name of R.H. Tawney still evokes the heroic phase of socialism. His work is associated with the belief in equality and fellowship, with the commitment to strive for the creation of a just social order to replace capitalism, and with the obligation of the educated and the privileged to put their talents at the service of the working class. (It is, of course, one sign that the heroic phase of socialism is over that few of the terms in this sentence can now be used confidently and without qualification.) Within the international history of socialism, and still more within the history of the labor movement in Britain, Tawney has a secure place in the pantheon of influential thinkers. Moreover, he was revered for his personality and example as much as for his writings, above all for his unaffected manner, his unworldly asceticism, and his deep sympathy with the efforts of working people to improve their lot, especially through adult education, to which he devoted a great deal of his own time and energy. He remained a cherished figure in English radical and working-class circles long after his death in 1962 at the age of eighty-two. He is one of the few secular figures to whom the label “saint” gets applied unironically.

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Lima