Richard Melson

July 2006

Anglo-American Patterns

Historical Reasoning: Patterns of Deep History

Culture and Anarchy Matthew Arnold

Patterns of Deep History

Matthew Arnold’s classic "Culture and Anarchy" came out in 1869.

The following remarks from the 1931 introduction to Arnold’s 1869 work, "Culture and Anarchy" concern Victorian England but strangely point to a profound Anglo-American pattern:

…the deep-seated spiritual anarchy of the English people,

an anarchy which expressed itself in the hideous sprawling industrial cities,

its loud-voiced assertion of personal liberty,

its dismal, stuffy, and cantankerous forms of Christianity,

its worship of size and numbers and wealth and machinery generally,

its state-blindness, and its belief in collision

(collision of parties, of sects, of firms) as the only way of salvation.

Introduction to:

Culture and Anarchy, p. xxxiii, by Prof. J. Dover Wilson

quoted in:

England In the Nineteenth Century, David Thomson

Penguin Books, 1985, page 112

The last twenty years of neoliberal development ideology echo this "state blindness" and "belief in collision of parties, of sects, of firms." They underlie the Washington Consensus.

Reagan-Thatcher based  neoliberalism (1980-2006),  whose twin pillars are "government is the problem" attacks on social policy combined with a kind of mindless anarcho-capitalism, do reflect this patterning. 

Latin America is of course now trying to reverse or cushion this naive neoliberal "bum steer."

Anglo-American "belief in collision"

Mathew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy as

locus classicus for contemporary neoliberalism

July 23, 2006