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George Douglas Howard Cole (September 25, 1889 – January 14, 1959) was an English political theorist, economist and historian. He was a long-time member of the Fabian Society and a principal proponent of Guild Socialist ideas, a libertarian socialist alternative to Marxist political economy.
Educated at St Paul's School, Cole became involved in Fabianism while studying at Balliol College, Oxford, joining the Fabian Society executive under the sponsorship of Sidney Webb.
During World War I, Cole was a conscientious objector and his involvement in the campaign against conscription brought him into contact with Margaret Postgate whom he married in 1918. The couple both worked for the Fabian Society for the next six years before moving to Oxford where Cole started writing for the Manchester Guardian. During these years, he also authored several economic and historical works including biographies of William Cobbett and Robert Owen. He became reader in economics at University College, Oxford. In 1944, Cole became the first Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford. He was succeeded in the chair by Isaiah Berlin.
Cole was a powerful influence on the life of the young Harold Wilson, whom he taught, worked with and convinced to join the Labour Party.
Cole and his wife (Margaret Isabel Cole) also co-wrote a number of mystery novels such as The Murder at Crome House (1947).
Contribution to Co-operative studies
Cole was also a theorist of the Co-operative movement, and has made a number of contributions to the fields of Co-operative studies, Co-operative economics and the study of Co-operative History. In particular, his book "The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society" examined the economic status of the English CWS (the predecessor of the modern Co-operative Group), evaluated its possibility of achieving a Co-operative Commonwealth without State assistance, and hypothesised what the role of the Co-operative movement may be in a Socialist State.
A second book, entitled "A Century of Co-operation," examined the history of the Co-operative movement, from the very first Co-operatives, to the contribution of the Chartists and Robert Owen, through to the Rochdale Pioneers, as well as the movement's development (in Great Britain) over the following Century.
From the Minutes of Oxford University Labour Club's Termly General Meeting of Michaelmas term 1926 (held 10 December):
- "after the interval, members of the club performed a scurrilous, libellous, treasonable and blasphemous operetta for which Mr GDH Cole was responsible. The club entered into the spirit of the production and enjoyed itself very much".
- Cole, G. D. H. & Page Arnot, R (1917) Trade Unionism on the Railways
- Cole, G. D. H. (1917) Self-Government in Industry
- Cole, G. D. H. (1918) The Payment of Wages
- Cole, G. D. H. & Cole, M. I. (1918) The Regulation of Wages During and After the War
- Cole, G. D. H. (1920) Guild Socialism Restated
- Cole, G. D. H. (1923) The World of Labour
- Cole, G. D. H. (1925) William Cobbett
- Cole, G. D. H. (1925) Robert Owen
- Cole, G. D. H. (1930) The Intelligent Man's Guide Through World Chaos
- Cole, G. D. H. (1943) Monetary Systems and Theories
- Cole, G. D. H. (1944) A Century of Cooperation
- Cole, G. D. H. (1946) The Common People, 1746-1946 (with Raymond Postgate)
- Cole, G. D. H. (1947) A Short History of the British Working Class Movement 1789-1947
- Cole, G. D. H. (1952) Introduction to Economic History 1750-1950, London, Macmillan
- Cole, G. D. H. (1953) "Socialist Thought; The Forerunners 1789-1850," in A History of Socialist Thought, vol. 1, London, Macmillan
- Cole, G.D.H. (1964) A History of Socialist Thought, vol. 2, London, Macmillan & Co.
- Cole, M. I. (1971) The Life of G. D. H. Cole
- Wright, A (1979) G. D. H. Cole and Socialist Democracy ISBN 0-19-827421-1
- Wyatt, C "A recipe for a cookshop of the future: G. D. H. Cole and the conundrum of sovereignty" Capital and Class 90, 2006
- ^ Cole, G.D.H., “The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society: A Report for the Fabian Society”, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1951.
- ^ Cole, G.D.H., “A Century of Co-operation”, Oxford: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1944.
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