This ambitious and wide-ranging book is about the relationship between liberalism and socialism in Britain in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It focuses largely on a group of intellectuals whose names are familiar but whose work has been neglected or misunderstood. Graham Wallas is the forgotten man of early Fabianism. L. T. Hobhouse has misleadingly been typecast as the last major exponent of a dying liberal tradition. J. A. Hobson's reputation has been obscured by repeated claims that he was a precursor either of the Leninist theory of imperialism or of the Keynesian revolution in economics. The historical work of J. L. and Barbara Hammond has suffered similar revenges from the whirligig of time. There are other liberals or socialists - notably Gilbert Murray, Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, R. H. Tawney and J. M. Keynes - who receive considerable attention. In the later chapters the economic approaches of Hobson and Keynes are disentangled and put in their proper historical setting.
Preface; System of references; Prologue: original sin and the modern state; 1. The passion for improving mankind; 2. Good men fallen among Fabians; 3. Imperialism; 4. The State and the Nation; 5. Human nature in politics; 6. War; 7. Hobson's choice; 8. The bleak age; Epilogue: sans everything; Bibliographical notes; Appendix; Index.