W.G. Runciman

W.G. Runciman, a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, was the author of Very Different but Much the Same: The Evolution of English Society since 1714, among other books. He died on 10 December 2020.

Diary: City Regulation

W.G. Runciman, 21 January 2016

In​ 2008, Donald MacKenzie expounded to LRB readers with admirable clarity the workings of Libor (the London Interbank Offered Rate), which establishes the benchmark terms on which hundreds of trillions of dollars are lent and borrowed across the world every day.* It sometimes comes as a surprise to the uninitiated to learn that Libor has never been based on transactions which have actually...

The kind of dog he likes: Realistic Utopias

W.G. Runciman, 18 December 2014

Why ‘earthlings’​? David Miller isn’t drawing a contrast with justice for creatures from outer space. Nor is he taking issue directly with Ronald Dworkin’s ‘justice for hedgehogs’ in Dworkin’s book of 2011 with that title, although Miller does say in a footnote that he disagrees with him. He has in his sights the ‘neo-Augustinians’, as...

The Charity Mess

W.G. Runciman, 19 July 2012

It may be too soon to be passing judgment on the Cameron government. But it does sometimes look as if we are back with the impatient legislation of the Blair era, along with the facile soundbites, the eye-catching initiatives, the whitewashed sleaze, the fawning towards the tabloids (in Blairspeak, ‘managing the relationship’), and the unwillingness or inability to think through...

Altruists at War: Human Reciprocity

W.G. Runciman, 23 February 2012

How is it that the members of a species as greedy, quarrelsome, egoistic and deceitful as ours still manage to live together in societies sufficiently harmonious and orderly not to be constantly breaking apart? Mid-20th-century sociologists used to call it ‘the problem of order’, which many of them saw as constituting the raison d’être for the academic discipline of...

Blame Lloyd George: England 1914-51

W.G. Runciman, 27 May 2010

When Oxford University Press commissioned Ross McKibbin to write the volume in the New Oxford History of England covering the years 1918 to 1951, they got more than they bargained for. McKibbin couldn’t contain what he wanted to say within the covers of a single volume, and Oxford wouldn’t agree to the inclusion of a two-volume work in their series. The result was the separate...

Here are the nominees for the greatest bad argument in political theory. They are: Thomas Hobbes, for Leviathan; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, for The Communist Manifesto; and Plato, for the

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For the past three years, the London School of Economics has been holding a seminar series, or rather a salon, snappily titled Darwin@LSE. These seminars are always invigorating, and never more...

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Many Causes, Many Cases

Peter Hall, 28 June 1990

To those who first encountered British sociology in the early Seventies, as I did, the discipline seemed infinitely more exciting than its counterpart across the Atlantic. Perhaps exhausted by...

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Perry Anderson, 6 July 1989

Under a flat, anonymous title and in serial guise one of the most exotic – even flamboyant – intellectual projects of recent years is coming to fruition. The first volume of W.G....

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Geoffrey Hawthorn, 1 April 1983

By the time he was 34, Thomas Macaulay had had a fellowship at Trinity, practised law for a year or two, sat in the Commons for four, and been appointed to a seat on the Supreme Council in India....

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