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In the last chapter I looked at several more or less reasonable – as well as several more or less outlandish – attempts to make representative democracy work. From the “suppositional” designs of ballot boxes to the intricacies of Hare’s machinery to the representational aspirations of the realist novel, the things I considered were variously committed to the idea that, given the right system, one could accurately represent the will of a single individual and then somehow aggregate the accurate representations of many individuals into yet another, accurate second-order representation of the will-of-all. As the figures I looked at understood, this isn’t easy – first, because any effort to represent the will of an individual relies on a complicated and maybe impossible set of assumptions about what an individual is and, second, because, even if one could settle on a way to represent an individual, arriving at a meaningful second-order representation of the aggregation of other representations is itself wickedly difficult. Before one could settle on an electoral design for parliamentary and other elections, one had to decide whether political representation was supposed to represent what individuals thought, what different types of individuals thought, what the state thought, what a party thought, what a strategic coalition of parties thought, what different places thought, what simple majorities thought, or what the people as le Peuple thought. These were and still are hard problems. Despite that, the figures I looked at believed in parliamentary democracy; they believed in its power, its potential, and its seemingly limitless capacity for expansion and reform.
Chapter 4 considers the late nineteenth-century aesthetic press as an embodiment of the collaborative process. Drawing from manuscript culture and William Morris’s lectures, this chapter illuminates two integral processes: individuals coming together to form a liberal community and the mechanization of the Kelmscott Press as a joining of art and writing. By positioning the Press within a larger trajectory of Victorian liberal sentiment, this chapter foregrounds that fraternal communitarian conceptions of liberalism can be understood as the same as Morris’s practical socialism. During the 1880s, liberalism and socialism were closely related. Further, by emphasizing Morris’s belief that the production of art brings relief from the vulgarization of society, this chapter asserts that such reform occurs in the communal endeavor of the press as a business partnership, witnessed in the collaborative productions of Edward Burne-Jones and Robert Catterson-Smith, and William Morris and Charles Gere. Morris’s ideal book, thus, serves as an exemplar of lived sociality in the embodiment of the Kelmscott Press: a site that combines work with social pleasure.
Cost structure is the engineering of economics. Rather than approach economics as a study of the motivation toward maximum utility or profit, we approach it as a structural design problem for which cost structure is the starting point. The main distinction is between fixed and variable costs, a distinction first devised by ceramicist Josiah Wedgwood after a financial crash in the 1770s. We consider Mine Kafon, the wind-powered landmine removal device designed by Massoud Hassani (collected by the Museum of Modern Art), the willfully inefficient production of Lenka Clayton, who makes drawings on a typewriter, the intentionally market-allergic manufacture of Charlotte Posenenske, the advances of technology that change cost structure and artistic production (tube paints and machine learning), and the costs of the Impressionist painters, especially Camille Pissarro. We use the breakeven calculation and the income statement to organize costs and to diagnose the sustainability of operations.
Hobson’s mature welfare economics was less a product of Oxford liberalism than of a radical tradition going back to Paine. However, Hobson also strove to express that radicalism in qualitative terms, and here was more strongly influenced by the illiberal Ruskin, whose inspiration was pre-capitalist, than by liberal predecessors. By 1900, Ruskin was frequently interpreted in a socialist manner: the task Hobson set himself was to show that Ruskin’s insights were compatible with his version of New Liberalism. The outcome, with its stress on quality rather than quantity, was distinctly different from the liberal orthodoxy that established itself in his lifetime.
This chapter argues that we should take seriously Orwell’s claim, in his 1946 essay ‘Why I Write’, that ‘what I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art’. By examining how this ambition of yoking art to politics plays out in Orwell’s final novel, it places Nineteen Eighty-Four within the context of the literary problems and practices of Orwell’s precursors and contemporaries. First, it considers his relationship with literary modernism and its legacies, with particular reference to his analysis of the work of James Joyce and Henry Miller, for instance in the 1940 essay ‘Inside the Whale’. Next, it examines Nineteen Eighty-Four in the light of earlier dystopian and speculative fiction by William Morris, Aldous Huxley, E. M. Forster, Jack London, Katharine Burdekin, Storm Jameson, and others; it also considers the influence on Orwell of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. Finally, it assesses depictions of writing and the politics of language within the novel, and how their treatment might relate to Orwell’s sense of his place within twentieth-century literature.
This chapter discusses the continuities and contrasts between ‘Romantic Gothic’ and ‘Victorian medievalism’, focusing on the figures of Robert Southey and William Morris. Bringing together the perspectives developed in Morris’s conservationist activities with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and his utopian romance, and Southey’s ‘black letter’ works of 1817, it argues for the early and late nineteenth-century presence of an alternative ‘history of the Gothic’. This is Gothic as what Morris called a ‘style historic’, articulated either side of the 1840s and the rise of historicism in architecture and ‘medievalism’ in literature. Where Morris ultimately chose a harder-edged Nordic ‘Gothic’ over the ‘maundering medievalism’ of Tennyson and Rossetti, Southey consistently avoided the category, despite being present at its inception with his review of the 1817 work in which the word ‘medieval’ first appeared. Revising received critical and semantic histories of ‘Gothic’ being subsumed by the medieval, the chapter explores the articulation and the ongoing significance of a more granular, aphasic and rhizomatic approach to the art and culture of the Middle Ages.
Beginning with the design competition for the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster in 1834, this chapter discusses the development of Gothic in architecture in the nineteenth century. It examines the work of three significant figures in the Gothic Revival: A.W. N. Pugin; John Ruskin; and William Morris, suggesting that, although each approached the issue in terms of their different religious and political convictions, all three were concerned with the relationship between architecture and society. Pugin’s contrasts of contemporary and fifteenth-century architecture illustrated the damaging social divisions of Victorian England and the need to return to medieval architectural forms and religious attitudes. Politically and religiously more ambiguous than Pugin, Ruskin proposed the special ‘Northern Gothic’ character of England where the artistic freedom of the artisan had expressed the coherence of its communities, now lost in industrial servitude. Morris, drawing from Ruskin, emphasised the freedom of labour and became convinced that Socialism was a crucial stage in the Gothic Revival.
This essay considers some of the spectacular events of 1887, ranging from Queen Victoria’s Jubilee procession in June to the ‘Bloody Sunday’ protests in November, taking in the opening of the People’s Palace, the Lord Mayor’s Day parade, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, the Military Tournament and the Hippodrome Circus. It notes the construction in the same year of two large venues designed for the production of visual entertainments (Earls Court and Olympia) and asks what constituted ‘spectacle’ at this time. A brief coda examines the ways in which the spectacles of 1887 were represented in the works of three writers: George Gissing, Margaret Harkness and William Morris.
This chapter describes the authors of England, who were all literary critics. Some of them include: Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Walter Pater, William Morris and George Bernard Shaw. Carlyle started as a literary critic and translator, but became a social critic and historian. German literature was little read in England, with the one exception of Goethe's Werther. Ruskin was the most highly theoretical of Victorian critics, as shown in his masterwork, Modern Painters, which established a theory of Beauty. Its appeal and influence continued well into the twentieth century. In his social and cultural criticism Ruskin emphasized the social and personal costs of industrial production, on the labourer or artisan turned into a machine, and also on the middle-class consumer. The second group of nineteenth-century critics might be seen as a second generation: Pater, Morris and Shaw were all exposed to the earlier writers in their youths.
In 1971, Fredric Jameson, possibly the most influential Marxist critic of the late twentieth century, recommended 'a relatively Hegelian kind of Marxism' to the literary critical world. It is arguable that, in the twelve years remaining to him, Frederick Engels did considerably more than popularize the pre-existing conceptual and textual legacy Marx had bequeathed. It is surprising, given the fact that Marx and Engels spent most of the later parts of their lives in London, that only William Morris, in this period and from this part of the world, made a noteworthy and lasting contribution to Marxist aesthetics. Morris's plentiful writings on art and its problematics within capitalism are one indication that Marxism, even in the aesthetic field, had started to spread far beyond German borders. By the end of the century the epicentre of all Marxist debate, including that around aesthetics, was moving decisively to Russia.
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