The Fate of Labour Socialism: The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the Dream of a Working-Class Future

The Fate of Labour Socialism: The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the Dream of a Working-Class Future

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By James Naylor
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2016
World Rights
448 Pages
ISBN 9781442629097
Published Apr 2016
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ISBN 9781442631120
Published Apr 2016
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442625914
Published May 2016
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Almost a century before the New Democratic Party rode the first “orange wave,” their predecessors imagined a movement that could rally Canadians against economic insecurity, win access to necessary services such as health care, and confront the threat of war.  The party they built during the Great Depression, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), permanently transformed the country’s politics.

 Past histories have described the CCF as social democrats guided by middle-class intellectuals, a party which shied away from labour radicalism and communist agitation. James Naylor’s assiduous research tells a very different story: a CCF created by working-class activists steeped in Marxist ideology who sought to create a movement that would be both loyal to its socialist principles and appealing to the wider electorate.

The Fate of Labour Socialism is a fundamental reexamination of the CCF and Canadian working-class politics in the 1930s, one that will help historians better understand Canada’s political, intellectual, and labour history.

James Naylor is a professor in the Department of History at Brandon University.


Chapter 1: The Legacy of Labour Socialism

Chapter 2: The Road to Regina

Chapter 3: Class War in the CCF

Chapter 4: Challenges at Mid Decade

Chapter 5: The Popular Front and the Meaning of Class

Chapter 6: The Problem and Consequences of War


"The Fate of Labour Socialism provides a compelling case for what actually changed the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation into the social democratic entity it became after the Second World War. Through Naylor’s careful reading of the extant archival materials, one sees the amazingly complex struggle for the working-class soul of Canadian socialism."

James Mochoruk, Department of History, University of North Dakota

"The Fate of Labour Socialism is an outstanding book, a significant contribution to the intellectual and political history of the 1930s."  

Kirk Niergarth, Department of Humanities, Mount Royal University

‘Naylor’s richly documented book, relying on a wealth of primary sources, evokes a wistful affection for the radical labour-socialist protagonists of the Dirty Thirties.’

Nelson Wiseman, Canadian Historical Review vol 97:04:2016