Another belated New Year
Well, here I am. After more than five years as The Boy Phelan I decided it was time to grow up. Not too much, but I thought I could use something a little more descriptive. The new title was a little tricky. I solicited opinions and though My Struggle was a favourite of mine people seemed to like Child of Thatcher. While I can appreciate the thought it seemed a little restrictive. It would give people the idea that they knew what Id say on this or that simply by seeing what Maggie said about this or that. So I plumped for Manchester Liberal. How so?
The Manchester Liberals were a 19th century group inspired by the writings of David Hume and Adam Smith among others, members of the Scottish Enlightenment who extolled individual sovereignty. They were, in this sense, quite distinct from the contemporaneous school of thought based around Rousseau and later cranks like Hegel with their concepts of ‘General Will’ and the like which went on to inspire socialism, the biggest wrong turn made by humanity since it decided to give the dark ages a try.
Manchester was one of the thriving industrial centres of England in the early 19th century yet its people couldn’t afford to eat. The Corn Laws, enacted and maintained by the Tory land lords who benefited from them, made corn expensive and raised the price of food.
It was, thus, clearly seen that the free market in corn was in the interest of the average worker. The Anti Corn Law League was founded in Manchester in 1839 and, with figures such as Richard Cobden and John Bright, it made the case for free trade. When Peel’s Conservatives buckled and abolished tariffs in 1846 it ushered in more than half a century of rapid growth and rising wealth.
There was more to it than just this though. The Manchester Liberals were concerned with social issues of poverty and improvement. They saw the solutions not in the vast and largely useless hand of the state as increasingly did those who called themselves Liberals under the doleful influence of John Stuart Mill. They saw them in the spontaneous relations between free individuals which would be written about at length by Freidrich von Hayek, a thinker far more in tune with Enlightenment impulses than Mill.
So Manchester Liberalism is the belief that free markets and free people, the two are largely indivisible, is the optimal social arrangement. Making this cause the cause of the worker was the its great achievement.
That is why, though quite a partisan Conservative today, I am not a conservative. It is why half a dozen suggestions for Conservative or, worse, Tory themed blog names were rejected out of hand. Im a liberal.
So if you’re new to this blog that’s broadly what you can expect. If you’ve followed from the old blog it the same old rubbish.