The Development of the British Economy, 1914-1950

The Development of the British Economy, 1914-1950

The Development of the British Economy, 1914-1950

The Development of the British Economy, 1914-1950

Excerpt

The difficulties of writing recent history are well known. Much of the material is not yet available, the monographs and autobiographies have not yet been written, and many of the actors are still alive, to refute the most ingenious theories. Above all, we are still too close to the events, and too emotionally involved, to see them in their historical perspective.

But the pitfalls of writing recent history are as nothing compared with the pitfalls of teaching it, for it is here that the gap between the generations is at its most unbridgeable. What are everyday events and terms to the teacher are strange mysteries to the student, who finds the nuances, the background, the flavour of events, so familiar to the teacher as to be not worth making explicit, lost on him in a welter of unrecognizable references. The teaching of recent economic history has its own special difficulties, for it enters into the subjects of complex theoretical debate of yesterday, much of which is still unfinished. Yet teaching there must be, if the student is not to carry away with him a blank in his mind regarding the period when 'history' ends and when 'current economic problems' begin -- precisely the period in which the minds of his elders were formed, and which some of them, alas, have never succeeded in leaving.

This book arose out of my desire to teach present-day students something about the no-man's land between history and applied economics or current affairs, and my difficulty in finding suitable general introductions, as distinct from specialist treatises and polemical works, of which there are probably too many. The usual tributes paid by the author in his Preface in this case must go to my students who unwittingly, and most likely unwillingly, forced me to write it. It is intended primarily for University students of Economics, Modern History and related subjects, and it assumes a modicum of knowledge of economic terms and institutions, such as any regular reader of the more intelligent weekly press could also command. It is hoped that it may also be of some use to their teachers and, further, to those interested members of the public, graduates, perhaps, in the subjects named here, and now active in business or public affairs, who require some knowledge of recent events to make up their own minds, believing with the author that the infallibility of our professional economic Oracles is by no means assured, even though they conform to their Delphic ancestor's habit of speaking in riddles, and regularly improve on it by speaking. with several different voices at once.

A special word needs to be said about the bibliography. Traditionally . . .

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