My name is Marc Mulholland. I am a Fellow (lecturer and tutor) in the History Faculty of Oxford University. My College is St Catherine's. I come from Ireland.
This is a blog relating to my book published in 2012 by Oxford University Press, Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear: From Absolutism to Neo-Conservativism. Now on sale here and here. If you want 20 per cent off the price, I can arrange that! Send me a message or leave a comment, and I'll tell you how.
The thesis my book is examining was rather pithily summarised by Leon Trotsky in 1939: "Wherever the proletariat appeared as an independent force, the bourgeoisie shifted to the camp of the counter-revolution. The bolder the struggle of the masses, the quicker the reactionary transformation of liberalism." [Context is here]
However, my book isn't a defence of Trotskyism, or indeed any particular ideology. It's a study of an idea that took shape in Left, Right, and Centre variations.
This blog has tid-bits not included in the book, and other thoughts that occur.
You can see book details at the OUP website.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Norman Stone on Liberalism
Here's a section on the crisis of European liberalism from the 1870s, a major theme of my book:
"By the end of the 1870s classical liberalism everywhere had lost its commanding position. Usually it did so because of financial troubles which were related to the effects of the Depression on government revenues. Classical liberals believed in free trade and minimal state interference with the economy. When government demands went up – as, in matters of defence, they were bound to do – there were wrangles as to how these costs should be met. Liberals disliked direct taxes … tariffs … State monopolies … In these circumstances, classical liberals came to grief everywhere by the end of the 1870s. Liberals could not present a common front over financial measures which, in this era, took up most parliamentary time."
[Norman stone, Europe Transformed 1878 – 1919 (Fontanta: London, 1983), pp. 42 – 3.]
I think now that conservative historians would be more likely to bemoan the decline of classical liberalism as a terrible mistake. There's a tendency to pass judgement on the errors of the past, so that the reader (and writer) can rather smugly imagine that they would have done better. Stone's book was very good at showing how circumstances often enforce choices that made sense within given premisses.