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    Wealth versus welfare: the British left between free trade and national political economy before the First World War

    Trentmann, Frank (1997) Wealth versus welfare: the British left between free trade and national political economy before the First World War. Historical Research 70 (171), pp. 70-98. ISSN 0950-3471.

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    Abstract

    The convergence of Free trade liberalism and radicalism was a central feature of British political culture after Chartism. This article explores the emergence of alternative visions of political economy on the left in the late Victorian and Edwardian period. Against the conventional view of a shared liberal Free Trade culture, it finds a plurality of languages. An interpretation of how Labour, social democrats, socialists and Fabians understood Britain’s development under Free Trade reveals an alternative spectrum of popular ideas about society and economy. In the Independent Labour Party, opposition to protectionism was linked to support for some trade regulation and a more balanced economy. It was tied to a cultural and economic critique of competitive exchange, social dislocation and commercial dependence under Free Trade capitalism. The economic critique co-existed with political internationalism and turned Labour’s position into one of socialist-radical dualism. This is compared to nationalist and imperialist socialist positions in Britain and abroad. The movement towards national political economy provided a link between older radical notions of moral economy and co-operation and more collectivist notions of economic order and state regulation. It marked a step in the evolution from mid Victorian popular liberalism to social democracy and from Free Trade to the welfare state.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2017 12:57
    Last Modified: 27 Apr 2017 12:57
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/18618

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