This chapter explores four main currents of economic thought in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Liberal Party: classical political economy, Henry George’s single tax, the ethical and communitarian economics of the New Liberals, and the ‘constructive’ Liberalism which emerged from neoclassical economics and the ‘national efficiency’ movement of the 1900s. Classical economics came under increasing challenge from the late Victorian period onwards, but it was the First World War that shattered the integrated global economy which Liberals had championed and transformed the political landscape within which the party operated. During the 1920s, the party found itself pulled between a traditionalist desire to restore the pre-war order and radical Liberals’ enthusiasm for industrial reorganization and public works. The Liberal Industrial Inquiry’s 1928 Yellow Book marked the ascendancy of the latter group, but proponents of orthodox policies remained influential within the party.
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