A comparative engagement with Tom Hazeldine’s The Northern Question, setting the trajectory of England’s former industrial powerhouse against that of Belgium’s Wallonia. Rustbelt regions, embedded in national contexts beset by persistent geographical polarizations, yet stubbornly consequential for their political outcomes.
Beset by simultaneous crises of class, state and nation, is the UK once again haunted by the spectre of decline? Perry Anderson presents an analysis spanning economy, polity, ideology, territory and diplomacy, testing how far the successive theses offered by NLR can be brought to bear on the present moment.
Britain’s Decade of Crisis
Boris Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’ victory set in the context of the multiple crises that have roiled the UK since its financial bubble burst in 2008—economic, social, regional, national, European—to which the new Tory ascendancy poses as solution.
After decades of hawkish neoliberalism, the British Labour Party has become the stage for an unprecedented experiment. To what extent has Corbyn’s leadership been able to transform Blair’s party into a vehicle for egalitarian renewal? Can his project survive the maelstrom of the UK’s Brexit crisis?
Revolt of the Rustbelt
The historical geography of Ukania’s referendum on the EU, pitting London and Scotland, along with Northern Ireland, against every region of England outside its pampered capital. The North as fulcrum of the victory for Leave, the accumulating reasons for its disaffection with the Westminster establishment, and the carry-through of its rebellion into the electoral upset of 2017.
A Tory Tribune?
Francis Mulhern on Ferdinand Mount, English Voices: Lives, Landscapes, Laments. The literary and political sensibility of Britain’s most independent-minded Conservative thinker, aide to Margaret Thatcher, admirer of Virginia Woolf, and devotee of William Gladstone.
The New Neoliberalism
If the ruling economic paradigm remains traceable to Mont Pèlerin, how to distinguish the present from the moment that brought Thatcher and Reagan to power? A periodization of neoliberalism, from anti-socialist insurgency, through centre-left stewardship, to the inchoate ideologies of the post-crash era.
How to assess the latest set-back for the European Union: the vote to leave by its second-largest state? Complex determinants of the Brexit protest—party-political contingencies played out against topographies of class and sub-national disaffection—met by single-minded condemnation of it by the global elite.
A Scottish Watershed
Analysis of Scotland’s independence referendum and the hollowing of Labour’s electoral hegemony north of the border, after its lead role in the Unionist establishment’s Project Fear. What tectonic shifts have brought the UK’s archaic, multinational-monarchical state to the fore, as focus for an unprecedented mass politicization?
Culture and Society, Then and Now
The idea of culture in Raymond Williams’s classic work, and discrepant readings of it, fifty years on. Gestation amid CP debates on the English tradition, hidden affinities with the Frankfurt School, and counterposition to the verities of today’s liberal multiculturalism.
The Myth of Anglophone Succession
How far are the systems of British and American international power historically comparable? Can the imperium presided over by Clinton and Blair be regarded as essentially a sequel to the Victorian order guided by Palmerston or Salisbury, or does it represent something quite new—the first true hegemony in history?
Farewell Britannia: Break-Up or New Union?
Has the Northern Ireland Agreement injected a fatal shot of constitutionalism into the archaic Ukanian state? Responding to Pocock and Mulhern, Tom Nairn looks forward to a rearrangement of islander relations, but warns that without its own reconstitution England could become a fatally regressive anomaly in the archipelago.
Britain After Nairn
How far can the path from Thatcher to Blair be written as a dynamic of Ukanian constitutional involution, or devolution? Francis Mulhern questions whether classes can be so quickly bundled off-stage. Is it possible to speak of nations—English, Scottish, Irish or any other—as political communities, without social or ideological dispositions?
McKibbin argues that New Labour's constitutional tensions are inherited from the Thatcherite project of centralizing power in order to promote a neoliberal political economy; and Labour's previous commitments to devolution. Tocqueville's view of constitutional inheritance and evolution is cited in opposition to Mair's model of a coherent Blairite strategy.
Corporate Populism and Partyless Democracy
Are there more tensions in New Labour’s constitutional reforms than Peter Mair’s model of a ‘partyless democracy’ allows? Anthony Barnett argues that the style of Blair’s government is actually closer to that of a large media corporation—bound to come to grief on the variegated realities of modern Ukania.
New Labour’s rule in the UK is often held to offer a paradox: devolution of power to regions and cities, concentration of power in the central executive and support structures. Peter Mair suggests there is no contradiction—Blair’s project is a ‘consensual’ system above politics, gutted of traditional parties.
Ukania Under Blair
Great Britain has finally yielded a parliament to Scotland. But the Labour regime in London still clings convulsively to the totems of Ukania, in Tom Nairn’s savage updating of Robert Musil. New Labour’s eupeptic rhetoric of youth as a sure sign of a system being wheeled into the terminal ward.
Imperialism and the Rise and Decline of the British Economy, 1688-1989
“Historians seldom consider the metanarratives within which academic articles, monographs, models and analyses must eventually become embedded, if they are to inform public debate in modern societies. Yet, however micro the problems they tackle, their findings can always be situated within some ‘greater story’. Since the Second World . . .” read more
Medieval England: To Have and Have Not
“Given the generosity of ‘Closure Theory and Medieval England’, Scott Waugh’s review of my English Society in the Later Middle Ages, it may seem churlish to quarrel with some of his specific comments. Many of the criticisms which he makes of my work are extremely valid but I . . .” read more
Competition and Containment in Health Care
“The health care systems of the capitalist democracies have been subjected to radical transformation during the 1990s. This transformation has been rooted in the perceived need to control the cost of health care to the state and business, given factors such as the increasing range of effective services, . . .” read more