Interlude Second: The Political History of Great Britain During the Time of Keynes
As we shall presently see, there is no one-to-one correspondence between political parties, which bring together groups of people seeking power, and the ideologies with which they are associated. Parties generally defend the interests of certain social categories, even if most claim to represent the population as a whole. Between a government’s discourse and practice, the gap is often very wide. Individuals coming together for political action have varying and contradictory interests and opinions. All liberals are not members of liberal parties and liberal parties do not bring together only liberals. The same incomplete matching holds true for socialists. The words ‘liberalism’ and ‘socialism’ carry multiple meanings. They refer to a vision of the world, particularly to relations between individuals and society, and to ideological positions, programmes, policies and economic theories. Political ideologies are complex ensembles intersected by various currents of thought. The borders between these currents are far from being clear cut and impassable.1 THE TRIUMPH OF IMPERIALISM Since the nineteenth century, the political history of Great Britain has been characterized by the changeover of political power between two great parties. Heir to the Tories, the Conservative Party took this name in the 1830s, while the Whigs took the name of Liberal Party in the1860s. The origins of these two political formations go back to the seventeenth century, with the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution. The Whigs (from whiggamor, or cattle driver), a name first given to those hostile to the restoration of the Stuarts, were disciples of...
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