Episode 007

Guild Socialism Revisited









Sophie Hope

Owen Kelly



July 9, 2021


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The ideas about cultural democracy that community artists in Britain began to talk about in the 1980s had a long pre-history. One of the important strands that fed into these ideas began in about 1914 when Samuel Hobson published National Guilds: An Inquiry into the Wage System and the Way Out. He presented guilds as a socialist alternative to state control of industry or conventional trade union activity.

According to Wikipedia, the “theory of guild socialism was developed and popularised by G.D.H. Cole who formed the National Guilds League in 1915 and published several books on guild socialism, including Self-Government in Industry (1917) and Guild Socialism Restated (1920). A National Building Guild was established after World War I but collapsed after funding was withdrawn in 1921”.

In this Genuine Inquiry Owen Kelly and Sophie Hope discuss G.D.H. Cole’s book Guild Socialism Restated and inquire into the relevance guild socialism might have for debates about cultural democracy today.