The article attempts to reopen a discussion about the legacy of the English labor economists. In the past they have been essentially seen as utopian radicals who predated Marx in certain respects but were superseded by his mature analysis. The authors claim that it is important to re-examine the validity of this position and suggest that in many respects the English labor economists have been misrepresented. Contemporary conditions also make this an important issue because both social democrats and anti-state radicals are now examining the market-based and voluntarist associational strategies first put forward by Hodgskin, Thompson, and Bray. The article also examines their emphasis on issues of the role of intellectual labor and collective self-help and suggests that this might help us understand why worker associations have found it difficult to compete in the market economy. The article ends with a call for a much wider and sustained research interest into the contemporary global cooperative movement, which the paper claims is a modern heir to the English labor economists' ideas.
- English labor economists