The so-called entrepreneurial Radicals of mid-Victorian Britain hoped to reshape the world in the image of the new manufacturing class ‘entrepreneurial politics’. Their main concern was to undermine aristocracy and to create a world in which monopoly would be replaced by competition and merit would take precedence over inherited position. Many members of the Victorian middle class also resented intensely the prevalent assumption that ‘government’ was some arcane mystery best left to a hereditary caste of landowners and higher professionals. Were the entrepreneurial Radicals primarily concerned to further their material interests? What did their beloved laws of political economy really mean? And were they really willing to follow the implications of these ‘laws’ to their logical conclusion? More basically still, to what extent did the needs of ‘capitalism’ coincide with the actual political and economic demands that were being advanced by flesh-and-blood capitalists? And why did so few businessmen force their way to the top in politics? These questions are tackled in the present book.
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