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Dusting off a famous AJP Taylor quotation

“Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction or limit. He could buy goods from any country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police. Unlike the countries of the European continent, the state did not require its citizens to perform military service. An Englishman could enlist, if he chose, in the regular army, the navy, or the territorials. He could also ignore, if he chose, the demands of national defence. Substantial householders were occasionally called on for jury service. Otherwise, only those helped the state who wished to do so. The Englishman paid taxes on a modest scale: nearly £200 million in 1913-14, or rather less than 8 per cent. of the national income. The state intervened to prevent the citizen from eating adulterated food or contracting certain infectious diseases. It imposed safety rules in factories, and prevented women, and adult males in some industries, from working excessive hours. The state saw to it that children received education up to the age of 13. Since 1 January 1909, it provided a meagre pension for the needy over the age of 70. Since 1911, it helped to insure certain classes of workers against sickness and unemployment. This tendency towards more state action was increasing. Expenditure on the social services had roughly doubled since the Liberals took office in 1905. Still, broadly speaking, the state acted only to help those who could not help themselves. It left the adult citizen alone.”

AJP Taylor, historian. The funny thing is, that AJP Taylor was a lifelong socialist and therefore, supported policies and ideas that led, directly and indirectly, to the destruction of some of the liberties he wrote about in this much-cited passage, on page one, from his classic, English History, 1914-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970).. Like many of his generation, he was naive about the Soviet Union, to put it kindly, although he did break with communism while remaining a lifelong member of the Labour Party. But as he would respond, much of the damage to British freedoms mentioned in this passage had been done by the calamity of the First World War and its aftermath. And piecemeal changes – starting in the late 19th Century and arguably hastened by the arrival of the mass franchise, made these liberties vulnerable. But are we being starry-eyed about Victorian-era liberties? Is he describing a myth or a reality? There’s a question to stir up the commenters.

I see that Ed Driscoll of Pajamas Media liked this quote too. I imagine it resonates with American readers quite as much as with a Brit.

11 comments to Dusting off a famous AJP Taylor quotation

  • Simon C

    Awesome quote! The freedom of movement is hard to imagine these days. and 8% tax! Even places thought of as low-tax regimes like Hong Kong and Singapore are double that.

    I don’t know how realistic this picture is but I like to imagine it was as he says…

  • Paul Marks

    The intellectual errors are all in the passage.

    For example the assumption that food producers would poison their customers if they were not forbidden to do so (Adam Smith did not get everyting right – but he got the point about it not being in the interests of bakers and butchers to poison their customers right).

    Also the assumption that children would not be educated – if the state did not finance it (see E.G. West “Education and the State” on that).

    And, of course, the assumption that better conditions (such as shorter hours of work) the creation of the state passing laws – not higher productivity via economic development (ditto no understanding that child labout declines as economic development occurs – and that without this economic development anti child labour statutes are not worth the paper they are written on).

    Actually this positive view of the state (“the state” spoken of as some sort of benevolent, almost divine being) comes into British thought from German philsosophy (long before Karl Marx – we are dealing with a long tradition).

    I used to believe that J. S. Mill brought it in to British liberal thought (helping to turn the “old liberalism” into the, statist, “new liberalism” by such ideas as government regulations on buyers being a violation of liberty – but government regulations on sellers not being a violation).

    However, then I read Sir William Hamilton (Mill’s great philosophical rival in liberal circles) and he spoke in the same Germanic tone about “the state”. For example, his DEFINITION of a “university” is something set up by the STATE (my stress) and given …..

    Sure the government was small in 1913 by modern standard – indeed economic growth had made it smaller than it had been before (although the low point for the central government as a percentage of the economy is most likely 1874), but all the key philosphical battles had already been lost.

    The natural end point of the positive view of the state was socialism – although many socialists insited that only certain types of states were good.

    If you want a time when intellectuals and the general “cultural elite” thought in negative terms about “the state” (or rather the government – as they would have called it) one has to look back beyond the Victorian age (even though the government was very small then).

    One has to look back to the 18th century (or, at the very latest, the 1820s) – when it was not assumed that each town must have an elected council responsible for X, Y, Z, (water supply, drainage – police…..) and when it was assumed that the government was (NATURALLY) corrupt and useless) and should be kept out of things – as it was force of destruction (war) not creation.

    Both Whigs and Tory folk held this view back in the 1700s (from the smallest market town – to Dr Johnson’s “club” in London where Tory people like himself and Whigs like Edmund Burke could sit down with the leading writers, and artists and theatre people – all with a broad measure of agreement about what the Sword of State was and what it was not).

    Government was actually bigger in the 18th century than in the Victorian age – due to the burden of wars on a pre industrial economy. But the intellectual atmosphere was different – different and better.

    By the way you can see all this in Scotland also.

    Perhaps the first sign of it is the move (by Duguld Stewart – and even I would not claim he was influenced by Germanic thought, although he was by, equally statist, French thought) from the “Common Sense” of Thomas Reid (although even he had an elitist side) to “good sense” – a sign “no bigger than a man’s hand” of bad things to come.

    A self styled intellectual elite (both Whig and Tory) who started to go in for “projects”.

    For example, the public/private partnerships to “improve” the Highlands (by building X, Y, Z) – almost needless to say these prodjects (these schemes) did not pay, and landlords (who had to pay some of the cost) headed to bankruptcy.

    They reacted in desperation to try and save themsleves – hence the “Highland Clearances” – but economically these also failed.

    But the new positive view of the state did not end there.

    There were many more projects – both at home and overseas (the vast undertakings in India).

    Some of these projects were successful in their own terms (such as bringing fresh water to Glasgow – although the reason the Clyde had become polluted in the first place was that it was “publically” owned), and the wealth of industrialization meant that they could be paid for without raising taxes (at home – NOT in India where higher taxes, to finance public works projects, were the real reason for the Indian Mutiny).

    However, key philosphical battles were being lost – for example (in the Scottish context) the Act of 1845 which made the Poor Law universal (most of Scotland had never had a compulsory tax for the poor before – by the way 1845 is also the date when the lovely old ceremony of Sasine is abolished, where earth and stone for land and houses, net and coble, and oar and water for right of ferry, would be handed over before witnesses on the site of a property transfer – this was abolished for no good reason, just because it offended the tidy minds of modern rationalists).

    And in 1872 an Act was passed in Scotland giving real control of education to the national government (from the local Kirk – on the grounds that many Kirks, in the cities, did not really enforce compulsory schooling).

    Government might not be getting bigger in terms of percentage of GDP – but philosophical battle after philosophical battle was being lost (and all in the high Victorian Age).


    First annual subsidy for schooling – 1833.

    Government reguistry of Births, Marriages and Deaths (without such paper work government can not grow) – 1834 (the first census was not till 1801 – oh how did those 18th century people manage without one).

    Councils sweeping away the old Closed Corporations (apart from in the City of London) – 1835.

    Compulsory police in every county in England and Wales – 1856.

    Network of government schools – after the Act of 1870.

    The school boards and complusory and the schools “free” – 1891.

    By the way the “golden age of the freedom of local government” ended not “under Thatcher” (or anything like that) it ended in 1875 – when the Conservative party government (of Dizzy) demanded that almost everything local councils had been given power to do, they HAD to do (whether the local ratepayers wanted these things or not).

    The same year (1875) had the Act of Parliament that put trade unions above the law (the courts resisted this insanity – so it was put beyond legal dispute by the Act of 1906).

    Not everything in the 19th century was bad.

    Government did shrink (till about 1870) as percentage of the economy.

    Also old Tudor statutes (which in the 18th century were sometimes enforces – and sometimes not) were formally repealed.

    This allowed full freedom of movement, and the freedom of the wholesale trade (which fools called the crimes of “engrossing and forstalling” – Edmund Burke had the Statutes banning these things repealed in the 18th century, but some Judges still made fools of themselves till the Victorian statures stopped them).

    But the intellectual atmosphere was not good – even the writing style (to me) declines.

    Take writings on economics (political economy), in the 18th century and early 19th century they were clear (one might not agree – but what was being said was clear enough).

    By the late 19th century the writings of (for example) the Professors of Political Economy at Oxford might as well have been in Chinese – it is almost impossible to make sense of them, as they are written in the strange formal (and wildly complex) language of the high Victorians. The writings are as clear as mud.

  • Rational Plan

    Except it is rubbish to say manufacturers would not adulturate food, as it is not in their interest. It was a wide spread practice for bread to bulked out with cheaper ingreadients, the same for other processed foods, even milk. Some of the things added would turn your stomach. The search for cheaper ingredients for better profit was and is widespread.

    Some took advantage of this distrust and created premium branded products that the consumer could trust on the quality of their ingredients. Except not all companies can be trusted as consumers in china have discovered by the wide spread adding of cheap bulking chemicals to milk products.

    So yes there are somethings the state should do. Food standards is in fact one of them.

  • Brad

    Of course once the State sets itself up to be the provider of untainted food, the system of bribes begins, creating no further assurance, and maybe even a false sense of surety.

    Nothing is perfect. There will always be profiteers. Yet State regulation doesn’t eliminate this. The results of regulation are to entrap the vast majority who trade in good faith and those who are black marketeers aren’t going to follow the mandates anyway, and likely buy indifference from those who supposedly protect us.

    The risks from profiteers is less than the burden of regulation. Private associations will do a better job policing its members – as one goes, they all go. Bureaucrats don’t have such worries. While certainly imperfect too, it requires less Force. And if there is one thing that can be said, in relation to the original article, is the last century has increased the use of Force as the first option, not the last.

  • Red Tory

    Here’s an alternative to the superficial AJP Taylor analysis:

    “Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman below the middle classes (ie 95% of the population) could pass through life noticing the state’s “help” only in the form of the post office, the policeman, the guardians of the poor, the magistrate, the food inspectors and the parish vestry, over which he mostly had no power. As long as he had enough money he could live where he liked and as he liked, otherwise he was resettled forcibly by local poor law guardians back to the parish of his birth or settlement – a journey, sometimes, of many hundreds of miles. If he was lucky enough to be in the parish of his settlement and down on his luck he could be offered the deliberate humiliation of the local workhouse that would give him scanty food and appalling accommodation in return for oakum picking or stone breaking. He had no official number or identity card. Mainly because of his economic circumstances and the promise of a better life abroad – even if that promise was not fulfilled – he could travel abroad or leave his country, family and friends for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could be forcibly transported abroad for what would be considered nowadays petty crimes. A terrorist, like Lenin when being hunted down by the Tsarist police, could spend a secretive life in this country without permit and without informing the police. Due to its island status, the state did not require its citizens to perform military service. When facing dire poverty and having to confront the ire of his fellow citizens thanks to the army private’s lowly status, the state allowed an Englishman to contemplate and enlist into the regular army, the navy, or the territorials. As there had not been a national emergency in the industrial age he could also ignore, if he chose, the demands of national defence. In trials there was an immediate bias against him as the jurors, who were only substantial male householders, were called on for jury service. At least the state intervened to prevent the citizen from eating adulterated food or contracting certain infectious diseases. It imposed safety rules in factories, and prevented women, and adult males in some industries, from working excessive hours. The state saw to it that children received education up to the age of 13. Since 1 January 1909, it provided a meagre pension for the needy over the age of 70. Since 1911, it helped to insure certain classes of workers against sickness and unemployment. This tendency towards more state action was increasing. Expenditure on the social services had roughly doubled since the Liberals took office in 1905. Still, broadly speaking, the state through its plutocratic legislature acted only to help those who could help themselves to more. It mainly left, in its splendid aloofness, the adult citizen well alone.”

  • Paul Marks

    Rational Plan – a company lives or dies by its REPUTATION.

    People who produce shoddy goods get exposed (that is what both consumer groups and a “muck raking” press are for).

    Putting one’s trust in government (as if its officials will ever come with “rational” regulations) is folly.

  • TDK

    To add to Paul Marks comments, Gladstone tried to have a bill passed allowing the state to take over the railways in the 1840s. Of course it failed but the rational then was the same as now. The private sector acts against the consumer interest, thinks of profit instead of the national interest, is uninterested in safety and so on.

    Whilst the attempt at takeover failed it did increase the scope of government intervention, most notably in that standard gauge was legally set at this time.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Red Tory: an interesting quote. It is worth noting, for instance, that in the early 19th Century, military conscription happened in the form of the naval press gangs: young men were kidnapped from their homes and normal places of work and made to fight and live in hellish conditions, and their pay was often not given over for years, if at all.

    The 1830s Poor Law was also pretty tough, although I suspect our view of the mid-19th Century owes much to that great sentimentalist, Dickens, rather than the less fashionable reality.

    Magistrates increasingly sought to suppress “vice”; but much of the pressure towards social reform was done by voluntary organisations rather than the state, at least until the latter parts of the century.

    If you seek perfection in this world, you will fail. But for much of the 19th Century, the UK did achieve a level of liberty that was enjoyed to a fair extent by many, and increasingly, by women (such as through greater freedoms in things like ownership of property, etc).

  • Paul Marks

    Red Tory – a lot of historical confusion in your words.

    Transportation – in 1914?

    The Tudor Poor Law (with restrictions on movement and so on) – who said that free market people were in favour of that?

    Of course many of the restrictions on movement passed by the Tudors were a dead letter almost from the moment they were written – as there was no real civil service or police to enforce them.

    However, you are correct if someone became a burden on the parish they could be sent back to the parish they came from. But why become a burden on the parish in the first place?

    On workhouses – the Act of 1723 did set up a workhouse test (for those parishes that had the money and the desire to build one) i.e. an able bodied person could face a choice (in these parishes) of the workhouse or no COMPULSORY aid (voluntary aid was, of course, not subject to the Act).

    The Act of 1782 encouraged more out relief – but (fatally) this included money for people in work (wage subsidies) under the Speenhamland system – that spread from this village after 1795 (partly due to the poverty caused by the wars with France).

    The Act of 1834 got rid of this wage subsidy system (which was driving rural areas to ruin) and made the building of workhouses compulsory.

    Whether someone (who had not requested aid) could be sent to one caused much legal dispute – which is why the Scots Act (of 1845) very clearly states than people can not be sent to workhouses unless they request aid.

    However, and this is where your account breaks down, “out relief” remained twice as popular as “in relief” (the workhouses) – partly because (at least in urban areas) the workhouses proved to be so expensive and ratepayers (people who paid the Poor Rate voted for the Poor Law Guardians under the Act of 1834) did not like them (of course the stories of Dickens and others gave the ratepayers a moral reason to resist paying for too many workhouses).

    By the early 20th century (the period Taylor was actually writing about) only between 2 and 3 percent of the population were ever in the government poor relief system anyway (out relief or in relief) – rather different from your “95%” or whatever other number you plucked from your rich fantasy life. “No I meant were not middle class” – but you seem to be defining “middle class” as people who paid the Poor Rate and voted for Poor Law Guadians, do you really believe that this was 5% of the population? Actually it was the majority of adult householders (the heads of families) including quite a few women. A rather large “middle class”.

    As for the industrial workers – whom you claim to care about.

    Over 80% of industrial workers were members of Friendly Societies by 1911 – and the numbers were rising. These mutual aid societies (not the state) were what provided such things as medical care and old age assistance. The state was there (in the form of the Poor Law), but a smaller and smaller percentage of the population had anything to do with the using the Poor Law.

    in this at least the Act of 1834 was a success.

    You call yourself “Red Tory”, but clearly “Red Prussian” would be a better description – considering your libelling of the British past, your contempt for self help help and mutual aid (which you despise so much you do not even mention) and your worship of the state.


    Yes I fully accept that the 19th century had massive progress in society – with an end to press gangs and so on, and also that that it had the greatest rise in material living standards that ordinary people on this island had ever seen (something that is rather missing from Red Prussian’s account).

    However, my point was that in elite cultural circles collectivist ideas became more and more popular – regardless of the material progress around them.

    The cultural elite (Ruskin, Morris, Wilde and so on) did not measure things like living standards and poverty in comparison with what happened before – no, they measured things in comparison to how ordinary people “ought” to live.

    Even though (utterly false claims about the wonderful Middle Ages aside) ordinary people had never lived as these members of the cultural elite thought they “ought” to or had a “right” to.

    They made up a fantasy standard (that existed in their own minds – and in their own living standards) and then attacked Victorian society for not living up to it in the lives of ordinary people (who, in reality, had never lived better in history – and were making great progress).

    Certainly the average person in the early 1900s did not live like (for example) Mr Ruskin in his great house in the Lake Distict.

    But to pretend that one can write as if most people in the early 1900s lived as most people lived in the early 1800s is utterly absurd.

    However, it was the opinion of the collectivists that started to control policy.

    The classic example is the Poor Law.

    The “Minority Report” on the Poor Law was written by people (the Fabians) who knew nothing about economics, or about economic history (the improvement in living standards) or even about how they Poor Law actually worked in practice.

    That is why it was called the “Minority Report” as the people with actual knowledge produced their own report (logically enough called the Majority Report).

    Yet it was the ideas Minority Report (written, I repeat, by hard core collectivist fanatics – filled with hatred for this country and the traditions of liberty within it) that the governments (of all political parities) started to follow.

    This is because collectivist ideas had been eating away at the elite (of both major party groups) for many years – via the universities and so on.

    So society was still sound with (for example) real wages double those of Red’s beloved Prussia.

    But the elite (including the leadership of both the Conservative and the Liberal parties) was becoming rotten.

    A fish rots from the head.

    And the practical experience of people like Octavia Hill and C.S. Locke (who had worked to help the very poor all their lives) was increasingly ignored.

    This also effects moral questions.

    Even in the early 19th century Edwin Chadwick was busy cooking the books (faking figures is a continuing problem in the 19th century – X city is not the Hell-on-Earth you want to claim it is, well then make up some figures that make it look as if it is and publish them instead – the public enjoy being shocked and horrified, they will never check your figures.

    Why did the J.B. follower Chadwich cook the books?

    Because (for example) he wanted government police – and so had to try and show that voluntary efforts to fight crime did not work.

    Why did he want state police?

    Because voluntary efforts at crime fighting tended to ignore certain moral matters – and concentrate on actual theft and violence.

    J. Butler had the same problem – her practical knowledge showed that the new government schemes to combat immorally were counter productive (as well as liberticide), but people (or rather certain people) did not want to know.

    The State (words increasing spoken in a hushed whisper – a most unEnglish way of thinking of that government) could not possibly have a negative effect on morals, when its intention was to have a positive effect.

    On the provision of X, Y, Z, by local government….

    J.S. Mill said that “everyone” agreed that local government should do X, Y, Z, – even I (with my negative view of 19th century intellectuals) do not believe that.

    And, as so often, it turns out Mill was lying.

    There was much opposition – and sometimes the opposition even won out.

    Manchester is the classic example of a city where X, Y, Z, was provided by the council (set up under the Act of 1835). Bit by bit commercial and voluntary provision declined and local government grew (although even in 1914 Manchester was still a “capitalist”city with the vast majority of the economy not made up of government controlled enterprises).

    However, other places did not follow the Manchester road – for example in Newcastle such things as light and heat were very much matters for private enterprise.

    It would have been interesting to see how voluntary and commercial efforts evolved in such things as drainage, water supply and the removal of rubbish – but experiment and local autonomy was brought to an end by the Act of 1875 was commanded local authorities to take up about 40 functions (whether local ratepayers wanted them to or not).

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Paul Marks’ comment reminds me of why it is a crime he is not holding a major chair in history at one of our top universities.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not know about that J.P.

    However, I do find it odd that simple questions are ignored by our masters – and always were.

    For example, if the Prussian way (state intervention in X, Y, Z,) is so much better than our way how come real wages on this island were twice as high as real wages in Germany at the start of the 20th century?

    I must stress that it was not just a handful of Fabians in Britain (and Progressives in the United States) who favoured copying Prussia – it spread much wider than that.

    For example, the front page of the Daily Telegraph on the first day of the 20th century was long rant about how Britain should copy wonderful Germany.

    Conscription, government intervention in health, old age……..

    I repeat that this was at a time when British real wages were double German real wages – yet we should copy them.

    Germany had far more people than Britain and a much bigger land area – but the Daily Telegraph was not saying “rush off and have more babies so that total economic output can be bigger”, nor did it say “go and invade northern France – so that our land area an be as big as Germany” .

    No the suggestion was to copy German (really Prussian) Bismark and post Bismark internal interventionism.

    There was a great power whose output per person was greater than Britain at the start of the 20th century – the United States. Real wages and output per person were both greater in the United States than in Britain.

    But no one suggested “copy the United States”

    Indeed in the United States the rising intellectual elite (such as Richard Ely – the mentor of both Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) were obsessed with copying Germany.

    They did not actually say “copy Germany” of course (even though most of them were actually educated in German universties – although the transformed places like John Hopkins University into German style univertities, with Ph.D. programs and so on, so the next generation of “Progressive” academics could be manufactured at home).

    They said they wanted an American version of collectivism – which would not have all the stuffy ancient practices of Germany.

    And they were telling the truth.

    For, of course, the automomy of such things as tradtional Kingdoms (such as Bavaria) and free cities (such as Hamburg) and the very “stuffy” practices of Prussia itself (the respect for old landowning families, the rules about how a King of Prussia and those who served the State could act – and could NOT act), were de facto LIMITATIONS on German statism.

    Limitations that the First World War was to sweep away – but which the American Progressives and British Fabians never liked in the first place.

    They wanted to go beyond the statism of Imperial Germany – vastly beyond it. To a society where only the “good of the people” (as the cultural and academic elite defined this “good”) was the only real law – and where their were no stuffy things like tradition or individual codes of honour (what it was wrong for person to do – regardless of the objective) would exist.

    The British Fabians were espeically open about this – with the open mocking of honour and moral rules (by all of them), and the talk, by H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw (and so on), of killing millions (indeed tens of millions) of human beings.

    That such monsters are considered heros by the cultural elite (on both sides of the Atlantic) should tell people all they need to know about the modern cultural elite.

    However, even early in the 19th century there were serious problems with the cultural elite.

    J.S. Mill was no monster (on the contrary he was a gentle man who meant well), however he did tell lies.

    I have already mentioned how he (for example in his “Principles of Political Economy” – but it also gets into his “On Liberty”) says that “everyone agrees” that local government should do X, Y, Z, (when he knew perfectly well that everyone did NOT agree).

    But it was not an isolated case.

    For example, he also says (in the Principles of Political Economy) that “the theory of value is now settled” – i.e. that everyone now agreed with the labour theory of value developed by David Ricardo (taking some ill judged words from Adam Smith) and Mill’s own father James Mill.

    This is almost breathtaking dishonesty.

    Even if J.S. knew nothing of Gossen or Rau in Germany (and Rau was the best selling text) or Ferrara in Italy or of the Say family in France.

    How could he not know of Samual Bailey of Richard Whately at Oxford? Or all the other foes of the Labour Theory of Value.

    Of course J.S. did know. He is lying – but his lies (on this and other matters) were soon the truth as far as undergraduates were concerned.

    Indeed it is not till the 1870s (with “marginalist revolution”) that the (absurd) labour theory of value again comes under sustained attack.

    So how does Mill justify his dishonesty?

    He would have no problem at all.

    As the basis of his moral code was utilitarianism (not as crude as that of J.B. – but he never fully broke with J.B.) all he need maintain is that more “good” is done by lying than by not lying, therefore lying is justified.

    I repeate that J.S. Mill was a kindly and gentle man – but think about the implications of this doctrine.

    If for “the greater good” one can violate the old rules of conduct – against lying, cheating (and on and on). As Edwin Chadwick was doing in his reports even as Mill was doing it his writings…..

    Utilitarians often mock old style people (“Colonel Blimp”) for being tied to rules of honour “regardless of the consequences” – yet the consequences of (de facto) getting rid of these rules of conduct, are terrible.

    That is why some modern untilitarians are so careful to stress that they are “rule utiltitarians” not “act utilitarians”.

    In that they do not just base their conduct (shall I muder this person, shall I tell this lie, shall I …..) on some sort of “pleasure pain” calculation for each act – but rather on the overall utility (over time) of a certain rule of conduct.

    However, the only rule for the Fabians and the Progressives was what-acts-can-bring-into-existance-the-new-society.

    By the way – for those not willing to read long books (such as “Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of Modern Liberalism”).

    Just look at the “Fabian Window” – really see it.

    It is not a “joke”, it was not an example of “irony” – they MEANT it.

    They were (and those that still follow them – are) monsters.