The triumphs and failures of four Canadian Marxists who advocated organization and education rather than armed struggle in the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the creation of socialism.
Literature on Marxist socialists in Canada has usually been written by those within the social democratic or Marxist-Leninist traditions and has generally failed to break free of the political biases of the defenders of these traditions. Canadian Marxists and the Search for a Third Way steps outside these approaches to appraise early Canadian Marxists on their own terms. Peter Campbell argues that their Marxism was a changing and evolving product of their intellectual development and day-to-day interaction with the Canadian working class. It was a dynamic, theoretical system that provided a "third way" to look at Marxism, a revolutionary socialism that rejected violence in favour of the broadest organization and education of the working-class majority.
Focusing on four individuals, Canadian Marxists and the Search for a Third Way describes the lives and ideas of Ernest Winch, Bill Pritchard, Bob Russell, and Arthur Mould and examines their efforts to put their ideas into practice. Campbell begins by looking at their childhoods in Great Britain, particularly their religious upbringing. He considers their family life, their attitudes toward women and ethnic minorities, what they were reading, and what effect that reading had on their theory and practice. He describes their lives as labor leaders and advocates of socialism, revealing how tenaciously, in an increasingly hierarchical, bureaucratized, and state-driven capitalist society, they held to the idea that socialism must be created by the working class itself.
This is a unique look at four Canadian Marxists and their struggle to create an educated, disciplined, democratic, mass-based movement for revolutionary change.