Commerce, Civilisation, War, and
Rob Roy and A Legend of the Wars of Montrose
Guy Mannering, the military commander, represents one part of the machinery of empire, which secured by force the routes through which people, material goods, and ideas moved across established boundaries. The machinery was powered by the City of London, and by the new commercial and financial institutions that motivated and financed the development of trading interests overseas. As we have seen, in Waverley Scott tended to divorce cultural modernisation from the commercial interests and activities that promoted it. In Guy Mannering the hero's attempt to maintain his distance from the commercial interests he serves is rendered problematic at various points in the narrative. In Rob Roy, however, the relationship between polite culture and commercial interests is considered more directly, and the problem of maintaining the hero's distance from commerce is negotiated through a first-person narrative.
Scott's treatment of this subject can be approached by thinking about the more recent views of the political and cultural consequences of commerce. In our own age the accelerating process of globalisation, coupled with the rapid demise of a number of totalitarian regimes, has inspired optimistic visions of the liberating potential of capitalism. Francis Fukuyama, for example, proclaims the victory of capitalism as 'the world's only viable economic system' and predicts that 'liberal democracy' may constitute the 'end point of mankind's ideological development'.1 George Herbert Bush's vision of a 'New World Order' that could realise 'the universal aspirations of mankind' and establish global 'peace and security, freedom and the rule of law' is implicitly underpinned by a comparable faith in the liberating potential of capitalism.2 On the other hand, many critics have emphasised the dispossessions, inequalities, and cultural destruction associated with the rise of global capitalism, while some have addressed the question of how the optimists reconcile themselves to such negative consequences. Pierre Bourdieu finds an answer in