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The Fate of Labour Socialism

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the Dream of a Working-Class Future

by (author) James Naylor

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
May 2016
General, General, Elections, General, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2016
    List Price

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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.

About the author

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

James Naylor's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Naylor’s first-rate research is presented in an accessible and engaging fashion. Anyone interested in the study of the CCF/NDP must now include The Fate of Labour Socialism among the field’s foundational texts, but the book also has value for anyone examining broader left and working-class movements during the era as well as how the Depression era crisis of capitalism shaped both intellectual currents and the nitty-gritty of politics."

University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018

"Naylor has combed through an impressive list of archival collections from Toronto to Vancouver, and his familiarity with the populous and diverse Canadian left between the wars allows for subtle distinction in socialist though…This is a rich reconstruction of the political thought of the Canadian left…that corrects the common characterization of the [Cooperative Commonwealth Federation] as composed entirely of social democratic reformers."

The American Historical Review, Volume 122, Issue 4, 1 October 2017

‘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.’

Canadian Historical Review vol 97:04:2016

"Historian James Naylor provides a fresh look at the early years of the [Canadian Commonwealth Federation], the precursor to the New Democratic Party (NDP)… In this detailed and extensively researched book, Naylor makes a number of important contributions that should influence how we understand the CCF."

Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol 51 no. 3, Sept 2018

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