This book focuses on the Labour Party's attitude to the idea of ‘mental progress’. ‘Mental progress’ relates to the idea of citizens both behaving more caringly and less selfishly towards others, and thinking more rationally and logically. As the Labour Party has been widely seen as the most important vehicle for progress in twentieth-century Britain, it is illuminating to study both the ways in which it did explore means of achieving ‘mental progress’, and also, to the extent that it did not focus on such a goal, why that was so, and why other goals were deemed more important. This book explores how Labour's leading thinkers and actors defined socialism, and what role they saw for ‘mental progress’ within that socialist vision. It is also concerned with how Labour figures' interpretation of the ‘moral level’ of the citizenry affected their thinking in relation to ‘mental progress’. This introductory chapter addresses the existing focus of the historiography of the Labour Party, and the absence of a systematic consideration of its attitude to the issue of qualities of mind and character.
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