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The Glorious Free Market

Michael Kulikowski: The Ancient Free Market

15 June 2016
Poiesis: Manufacturing in Classical Athens 
by Peter Acton.
Oxford, 384 pp., £51, December 2014, 978 0 19 933593 0
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... or be paid for studying them.’ You have to admire an academic monograph that wears its neoliberalism so proudly as to approve the abolition of academic study lacking in immediate ‘relevance’. PeterActon throws out a red herring on page one – ‘agriculture was the real capitalism, contributing to social inequality’ – but agriculture and class analysis are both wilfully absent here ...
7 January 1993
The Cambridge History of Political Thought: 1450-1700 
edited by J.H. Burns and Mark Goldie.
Cambridge, 798 pp., £60, August 1991, 0 521 24716 0
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... editing the Cambridge History of 18th-Century Political Thought, and a volume on the 19th century is to follow. These furthermore are ‘Cambridge histories’ in the classic sense, laid down by Lord Acton a century ago: general editors co-ordinate a series of chapters on related topics, each written by an authority in the field it defines. Academic culture today teems with multi-author volumes, many ...

Former Lovers

Michael Mason

6 September 1984
The Bourgeois Experience. Victoria to Freud Vol. I: Education of the Senses 
by Peter​ Gay.
Oxford, 608 pp., £18.50, March 1984, 0 19 503352 3
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Austin and Mabel: The Amherst Affair and Love Letters of Austin Dickinson and Mabel Loomis Todd 
by Polly Longsworth.
Farrar, Straus, 449 pp., £18.50, September 1984, 0 374 10716 5
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The Memoirs of John Addington Symonds 
edited by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Hutchinson, 319 pp., £14.95, May 1984, 0 09 154170 0
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... a categorical link, of whatever sort, between the Victorians and sex: if ‘Victorian’ continued to be entitled to a powerful sexual overtone, even if not the customary one. The reviewers of Peter Gay’s book have been very receptive to the thought that we have got Victorian sexuality wrong: for it is a leading part of the author’s argument that the Victorians were not prevailingly ignorant ...
7 July 1988
Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... acknowledges what, if Martin Gilbert had been a shade less thorough, might be a record number of helpers and informants. Flagging only in the last stretch of the alphabet, they range from Sir Harold Acton to Douglas Woodruff, and like his subject the author has evidently ‘made it his business to know people whom he thought worth knowing’. He dissociates himself from what he calls ‘the vacuum ...

Whipping the wicked

Peter​ Clarke

17 April 1980
The Optimists: Themes and Personalities in Victorian Liberalism 
by Ian Bradley.
Faber, 301 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 571 11495 4
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... makes the moral man ... ’ Bradley is generally inclined to accept this prospectus at face value in explaining the historical ascendancy of Liberal ideas: ‘the faith in liberty of Mill, Acton and Morley was the product of an exceptional period in British history when reason did actually seem to prevail over force and political problems could be solved by counting heads rather than ...

Nit, Sick and Bore

India Knight: The Mitfords

3 January 2002
The Mitford Girls: The Biography of an Extraordinary Family 
by Mary Lovell.
Little, Brown, 611 pp., £20, September 2001, 0 316 85868 4
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Nancy Mitford: A Memoir 
by Harold Acton.
Gibson Square, 256 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 1 903933 01 3
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... aristocrat the other, that’s all as far as I can see. Fiends!’ All this, of course, after having briefly flirted half-heartedly with Mosley’s British Union of Fascists herself. ‘Prod’ – Peter Rodd, her quite fabulously dull husband – ‘looked very pretty in his black shirt,’ she wrote to Evelyn Waugh years later, ‘but we were younger and high-spirited then, and didn’t know about ...
23 March 1995
Cyril Connolly: A Nostalgic Life 
by Clive Fisher.
Macmillan, 304 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 333 57813 9
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... has something to look back on, and to be sorry for themselves about; and Connolly acted as a focal point for the regrets and frustrations of his literary generation. He was a mixture of Pan and Peter Pan. Clive Fisher, who has written a very good book on Noel Coward, was quite right to give this elegant study the subtitle ‘A Nostalgic Life’. Being Anglo-Irish helped the nostalgia. Connolly ...
8 December 1994
London: A Social History 
by Roy Porter.
Hamish Hamilton, 429 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 241 12944 3
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A City Full of People: Men and Women of London, 1650-1750 
by Peter​ Earle.
Methuen, 321 pp., £25, April 1994, 9780413681706
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... of its privileges, helped create a climate where self-interested commerce could do virtually what it liked to boost its profits. The speculators and get-rich-quick merchants date from long before Peter Rachman’s Sixties and the Yuppie Eighties. In the history of London, Porter suggests, greed had carte blanche. The free-for-all continued, with neither local nor Parliamentary government overseeing ...

Museums of Melancholy

Iain Sinclair: Silence on the Euston Road

18 August 2005
... Hadman E. The names are here because the dead men, one uniform exchanged for another, are not. Individual bodies could not be reassembled, bones picked from the mud. ‘The government of the time,’ Peter Ashley wrote in his English Heritage booklet, Lest We Forget (2004), ‘refused to acknowledge the concept of the repatriation of the dead, so these monuments became the focal points for grief ...


Geoffrey Hawthorn

15 November 1984
Social Scientist as Innovator 
by Michael Young.
Abt Books, 265 pp., $28, April 1984, 0 89011 593 1
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Revolution from Within: Co-operatives and Co-operation in British Industry 
by Michael Young and Marianne Rigge.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78234 7
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Dilemmas of Liberal Democracies: Studies in Fred Hirsch’s ‘Social Limits to Growth’ 
edited by Adrian Ellis and Krishan Kumar.
Tavistock, 212 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 0 422 78460 5
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... paternalistic, more distinctively Fabian, in its inspiration. By the early 1950s, when Young started the Institute of Community Studies in Bethnal Green and did a series of studies from there with Peter Willmott and others, there was simply no adequate information on what most people might want from politics. This research – done, it is true, in the South-East, away from the areas of heavy ...

In Praise of Barley Brew

E.S. Turner: Combustible Belloc

20 February 2003
Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc 
by Joseph Pearce.
HarperCollins, 306 pp., £20, July 2002, 0 00 274095 8
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... Oxford, writing in the Sunday Times that he considers Belloc a more perceptive historian than G.M. Trevelyan: ‘I think that, in the end, I shall go to Trevelyan’s enemies, Hilaire Belloc or Lord Acton, both Catholics, for an understanding of modern England.’ Belloc wrote no autobiography: he felt it was not really a gentlemanly thing to do; autobiographers usually offered too little or far too ...

Serial Evangelists

Peter​ Clarke

23 June 1994
Thinking the Unthinkable: Think-Tanks and the Economic Counter-Revolution, 1931-83 
by Richard Cockett.
HarperCollins, 390 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 00 223672 9
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... from Europe and the USA. Philosophers were heavily outnumbered by economists, among whom Milton Friedman, on his first trip to Europe, looked distinctly under-age. Hayek had thought of it as the Acton-Tocqueville Society: others favoured Burke and Smith; the free-market solution was to call it after the mountain on which it convened. The Mont Pèlerin Society offered an escape from the dreary post ...
12 November 1987
For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... they are never ephemeral and are occasionally remarkable, like the longish piece on Mayhew. He’s not a slasher – though there is a very severe notice of the autobiographies of Anthony Powell and Peter Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the ...


Thomas Nagel: What We Owe to Each Other by T.M. Scanlon

4 February 1999
What We Owe to Each Other 
by T.M. Scanlon.
Harvard, 480 pp., £21.95, February 1999, 0 674 95089 5
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... the implication that most of us in the rich countries are living morally unacceptable lives). Utilitarianism makes it difficult to avoid this conclusion, and it is accepted by some utilitarians, like Peter Singer. There are so many people you could save, each at a modest cost. Scanlon mentions this problem without offering an unqualified answer, but here is a suggestion. While no one could reasonably ...

Is the lady your sister?

E.S. Turner: An innkeeper’s diary

27 April 2000
An Innkeeper's Diary 
by John Fothergill.
Faber, 278 pp., £23.95, January 2000, 0 571 15014 4
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... fellow is thinking of having an aeroplane landing-ground for the benefit of his clients and of Thame. This Folio Society reissue comes in the expected fine binding and with illustrations by Peter Bailey, but without any notes to identify all the one-time celebrities, half-celebrities or ‘significant people’, as Fothergill rates them, who throng the road to Thame. Many famous names are ...

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