Scarcely twenty years ago the capitalist system was, to all appearances, disintegrating—in England its symbol was Jarrow, “the town that was murdered,” its representative figure Montagu Norman, the sinister governor of the Bank of England who engineered the rise of unemployment and the fall of governments. Business was in disgrace, businessmen suspect, and business values held in almost universal contempt. “Profits,” complained Lord Chandos, “are without honor in our country.”
The upper classes shared in the disgrace. Frightened leaders of a contracting Empire, they had shown themselves, over two decades, astonishingly incompetent in the very functions—Diplomacy, Finance and Defense—where even their critics had credited them with a certain traditional “flair.” It was a sorry record and people concluded that the capitalist system could no longer work, nor the governing classes continue to govern. Their verdict, in the 1945 elections, seemed decisive:
A vote of censure [wrote Cyril Connolly in Horizon] on the shrewd, city-agent faux-bonhommes, a blow struck against the religion of money, it has given us a government who are “we” and not ...
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