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Meccano Ltd promoted a particular type of subjectivity: the ‘Meccano Boy’. This construction toy schooled the child in scientific education, social participation, civic roles, life within a profession and in building the material infrastructure of modernity. Playing with Meccano encouraged translation of an intangible idea represented in two dimensions into material forms through the production of three-dimensional compositions of machinery or models. We compare the legal interpretation of this form of play with its broader cultural significance in creating a base of socially connected consumers, orchestrated to extract commercial value from educational play. Meccano did not involve free play or simply making educational models. A toy for making toys, Meccano was marketed as training for adulthood. Through the establishment of Meccano guilds and the relevance of the Meccano Magazine, children, their fathers and a wider brotherhood were interpellated as active developers of Meccano. It was a brand and activity that Meccano designed for international appeal and where the child was happily engaged in play that supported a later life that contributed to international industrialisation.
All the conspirators could read, and most could write, more or less. Radical newspapers and tavern trade clubs and societies provided their political education. ’Low’ radicals in regency London were as deeply influenced by the agrarian socialist Thomas Spence as by Tom Paine, but, either way, their values drew on Enlightenment. They believed in the people’s right to resist oppression, and some hoped for the redistribution of landed property throughout the kingdom. Spence propagated his ideas through slogans, songs, graffiti, and tokens as well as pamphlets and books; and after his death in 1814 they were propagated through the Society of Spencean Philanthropists and Wedderburn’s ‘chapel’ in Soho, to both of which key conspirators belonged.
Is humanitarianism a network, hierarchy, or market? This chapter argues that it combines principles of hierarchy and networks in the form of a club. It develops a sociologically inspired version of club governance to understand the rise and resilience of the Humanitarian Club. This sociological explanation illuminates how clubs, like many groups, are: distinguished by collective interests, identities, and values that create a common mentality and a sense of we-ness; and often generate a distinction from and feeling of superiority to outsiders. The chapter examines the structures of inequality and patterns of inclusion and exclusion, and traces the rise of the humanitarian elite and the creation of a Humanitarian Club that is produced and sustained by four kinds of capital and that create sharp distinctions between (Western) insiders who can deliver the goods and (Southern) outsiders who are viewed as inferior. Although the humanitarian field has attempted on countless occasions to create more inclusion and diversity, the chapter argues that these forms of capital guard the doors of the Club and maintain a humanitarian field in which Western aid organizations dominate Southern aid agencies.
The French Jacobins were founded in November 1789 after an inspiring letter arrived from the London Revolution Society, a minor British reform organization made up mostly of leading Protestant Dissenters. Thereafter, they mobilized a network of affiliated societies explicitly along Anglo-American lines, creating a powerful pressure-group capable of spreading revolutionary principles and influencing the National Assembly. Though barely surviving division and attempted suppression in 1791, as the Revolution radicalized they became poised to be an unparalleled force in French politics.
The international relations (IR) literature appears to be divided into two fundamentally different views about the basic structure of the international system and its institutions. On one view, the expansion and opening of international institutions in the 20th Century to include more actors and greater geographical reach, combined with strengthening democracy norms, are driving the democratization of international institutions. At the same time, a more critical literature is emerging that instead views the system as permeated by multiple forms of hierarchy and deep structures of domination. This chapter, in contrast, argues that political equality and inequality obstinately co-exist in international institutions because of their very role in regulating access to collective goods. It develops what I call the closure thesis to explain how institutional designs reflect an ongoing struggle between the assertion of equal rights and the preservation of unequal privileges. This argument requires re-thinking three premises: that equality and inequality are antagonistic; that greater inclusiveness typically promotes a move towards greater equality; and that international institutions provide global public goods. This chapter elaborates on these points, situates them in the literature, introduces the closure thesis, and outlines the rest of the book.
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