The Dignity of Labour
The Dignity of Labour

Does work give our lives purpose, meaning and status? Or is it a tedious necessity that will soon be abolished by automation, leaving humans free to enjoy a life of leisure and basic income?

In this erudite and highly readable book, Jon Cruddas MP argues that it is imperative that the Left rejects the siren call of technological determinism and roots it politics firmly in the workplace. Drawing from his experience of his own Dagenham and Rainham constituency, he examines the history of Marxist and social democratic thinking about work in order to critique the fatalism of both Blairism and radical left techno-utopianism, which, he contends, have more in common than either would like to admit. He argues that, especially in the context of COVID-19, socialists must embrace an ethical socialist politics based on the dignity and agency of the labour interest.

This timely book is a brilliant intervention in the highly contentious debate on the future of work, as well as an ambitious account of how the left must rediscover its animating purpose or risk irrelevance.

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  • June 2021
  • 216 pages
  • 140 x 214 mm / 6 x 8 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509540785
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509540792
  • Open eBook $16.00
  • 9781509540808
About the Author
Jon Cruddas is the Labour Member of Parliament for Dagenham and Rainham.
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Reviews

‘This book seeks to re-establish Labour as the party of work. It is an ambitious and essential read for anyone interested in how our movement can rebuild.’
Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party

The Dignity of Labour is an angry book: an exasperated cri de coeur from a politician who believes his party risks losing not only more elections, but also its grip on [its] historic mission’
The Observer

‘a trenchant reassertion of the centrality of work in the politics of the common good’
The Guardian

‘a call to arms for a coherent philosophy with which to define the [Labour Party]—something desperately needed by its current leader Keir Starmer’
Prospect

‘Timely [and] engaging'
New Statesman

‘Ranging brilliantly across economics, ethics, politics, even film, this humane and hopeful book points the way to a new politics of the common good. It is essential reading for everyone who cares about repairing our civic life.’
Michael Sandel, author of The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good?

‘In this short book Jon Cruddas upends the assumptions of the modern left and offers a route back to relevance. Anchored in the moving story of loss, humiliation and resilience in Dagenham, he revives an exiled political tradition to restore the prospect of dignity and hope. In a time when we’ve briefly remembered the value of work, Cruddas reminds us there is nothing inevitable about the future. Surely among the most important political works of the coming decade, The Dignity of Labour offers the first, genuinely original answer to the question we are frequently asked: what is Labour for?’
Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary

‘Humane, intelligent and accessible. This wonderful book shows that dignity for workers must be at the heart of the post-Covid economy – and shape the future of work itself. A must-read for everyone on the left – and far beyond.’
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress

‘Work is at the heart of a meaningful life. Its degradation has left people humiliated. Neither liberal technocracy nor far-left “end-of-work” utopias offer radical hope. This is one of the most important books written during the long interregnum since the 2009 financial crisis. It offers a deeper diagnosis than any binary analysis by showing how liberal democracy allied to capitalism commodifies work and incubates authoritarian populism. Played out in the history of his Dagenham constituency, Cruddas’ conception of community, nation and citizenship is anchored in a politics of work. Such a renewed public philosophy for the left can give people a more dignified life. A must-read for everyone interested in the future of social democracy and political pluralism.’
Adrian Pabst, Professor of Politics at Kent and author of The Demons of Liberal Democracy

‘… this book is a crucial, fixed marker in a political fog. Buy it and hold on to it.’
Manchester Review of Books

‘Cruddas with this work deserves to be part of mainstream thinking in the Labour Party and his ideas, if adopted, cannot help but improve Labour’s still-faltering electoral chances.’
The Conservative Woman

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