“An island position, wealth, success in world politics, all this cemented by Puritanism, the religion of the ‘chosen people’, has turned into an arrogant contempt for everything continental and generally un-British. Britain’s middle classes have been long convinced that the language, science, technology and culture of other nations do not merit study. All this has been completely taken over by the philistines currently heading the Labour Party. It is curious that even Hyndman, who published while Marx was alive a book called ‘England For All’, refers in it to the author of ‘Capital’ without naming either him or his work: the cause of this strange omission lay in the fact that Hyndman did not want to shock the British – is it really conceivable that a Briton could learn anything from a German! The dialectic of history has in this respect played a cruel trick upon Britain, having converted the advantages of her forward development into the cause of her present backwardness. We can see this in the field of industry, in science, in the state system and in political ideology. Britain developed without historical precedents. She could not seek and find a model for her own future in more advanced countries. She went forward gropingly and empirically, only generalizing her experience and looking ahead insofar as was unavoidable. Empiricism is stamped on the traditional mode of thought of the British – that means above all the British bourgeois; and this same intellectual tradition has passed over to the top layers of the working class. Empiricism became a tradition and a banner, that is, it was coupled with a disdainful attitude to the ‘abstract’ thought of the continent. Germany for long philosophized about the true nature of the state, while the British bourgeoisie actually built the best state for the needs of its own rule. But with the passage of time it turned out that the German bourgeoisie which, being backward in practice tended towards theoretical speculation, turned its backwardness to advantage and created an industry far more scientifically organized and adapted to the struggle on the world market. The British socialist philistines took over from their bourgeoisie an arrogant attitude towards the continent in a period when Britain’s earlier advantages were turning into their opposite. MacDonald, in establishing the ‘congenital’ peculiarities of British socialism, states that to seek its ideological roots we ‘will have to pass by Marx to Godwin’. Godwin was a major figure for his time. But for a British person to go back to him is the same as for a German to seek roots in Weitling, or for a Russian to go back to Chernyshevsky” [Leon Trotsky, Where is Britain Going?] [in Leon Trotsky, Collected Writings and Speeches on Britain. Volume Two, 1974]