Laski, Harold J. (1891–1950)
A British Labour Party and Fabian Society official, one of the most famous speakers of his era, Laski was listed by Corliss Lamont as having been a philosophic naturalist.
Nicolas Walter has called Laski “a leading freethinker, an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association and our second President from 1930 to 1933, and he was certainly a very popular writer and speaker among freethinkers.” Laski was chairman of the Labour Party in 1945 and 1946 and was a professor of political science at the London School of Economics from 1926 until the end of his life.
Laski once wrote,
- The test, surely, of a creed is not the ability of those who accept it to announce their faith; its test is its ability to change their behavior in the ordinary round of daily life. . . . I cannot see, in the historic process, that the churches have been other than the enemies of reason in thought and of justice in social arrangements. Their concentration upon the life to come—for the reality of which I see no evidence—has, it seems to me, done more than most factors in history to deflect the attention of men from the realities of our life here and now. The result of the deflection has always been to the interest of those who live by privilege.
Despite his open rejection of all religion, Laski, according to Walter in The New Humanist, “remained very conscious of his Jewish identity—not surprisingly, in view of the personal anti-Semitism which he encountered and the terrible events which he witnessed.”