wiser today

A man should never be ashamed to own that he is wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.

William Lewis

The Power of Productivity

Undistorted competition in the product market makes economies healthy. That's why product market distortions are much more important than labor market distortions. However, part of a healthy economy is that unsuccessful owners and managers do not come out all right in the end. That's why they fight so hard for protection. That's part of the reason globalization is under such attack.

Brazil has made remarkable progress over the past decade in reforming its economy to eliminate favoritism for business special interests. However, Brazil has another big problem. Most people don't recognize the destructive power of big government. Big governments demand big taxation. When part of the economy is informal, and untaxed, the burden falls heavily on legitimate businesses. This is a burden today's rich countries did not have when they were poor.

Brazil's government spends 39 percent of Brazil's GDP. The U.S. government spends about 37 percent. Brazil already looks a little out of line. However, Brazil is in a dramatically different position for raising the money to pay for that much government spending. Government spending has to be financed primarily by taxes. The U.S. government is able to tax most business entities and most individuals. The U.S. government can do this because virtually all businesses and all people are registered with the government. The government knows who they are and where they are. If some don't pay their taxes, the government comes after them.

Not so in Brazil. About 50 percent of the workers in Brazil are not registered with the government. Many small businesses are also not registered. Often, these people are desperately poor and living near subsistence. No country has the heart to go after these people for tax money. Even if they did, they would collect very little from each person. However, because we're talking about roughly 50 percent of the workers in Brazil, the total tax revenue forgone is substantial. But collecting this money is not a possibility even if the government wanted to. The workers and small businesses would be virtually impossible to find. The costs of collecting taxes from them would probably be more than the revenue raised. This means that most of the tax revenue has to come from larger businesses and some individuals.

Unlike the United States, Brazil has chosen to collect most of its taxes through corporations. Thus today, taxes paid by corporations in Brazil are almost twice as high as in the United States. However, that's not the right comparison. We should be making a comparison with the United States in 1913. That's when the United States had the same GDP per capita as Brazil today. In 1913 the U.S. government spent only 8 percent of GDP. Thus, as a percentage of GDP, the corporate tax burden in Brazil today is seven times that of U.S. corporations when the United States was at Brazil's current GDP per capita.

Chandran Kukathas

The Liberal Archipelago

The tendency to pursue collective purposes, and to seek to establish a degree of social unity, is only that: a tendency; and one which exists in tension with the other tendency of the liberal state: to pursue no collective purposes—to share no common enterprise—but to offer only the framework within which its members may pursue their own ends separately.

Yet here it might be argued that, if the liberal state is itself neither one thing nor the other but something with elements of both kinds of liberalism, why not theorize that entity which is the product of a compromise between the two extremes? The answer is that this simply will not be possible when that compromise reflects not any principled resolution of philosophical differences but varying patterns of mutual accommodation among people and groups whose principled aspirations, and whose view of what would constitute a 'principled compromise', pull in different directions. Actual political arrangements reflect not philosophical settlements but the reality of the distribution of power in a society—a point recognized especially clearly by Rousseau, and also by Marx (even though both thought the problem could be overcome, the first by a political transformation and the latter by an antipolitical one). Here William Galston is quite right to point out that the liberal state will have an interest in 'ensuring that the convictions, competencies, and virtues required for liberal citizenship are widely shared'. And like all states, the liberal state will pursue its interests. But the product of this will not be anything but reflective of the distribution of power within the state. In the liberal state, there is a great deal that will not be tolerated—even though it is a state whose capacity for toleration is unmatched. But this does not mean that what is not tolerated will be repudiated because a principled compromise position underpins the settlement and clear lines of demarcation will have been drawn. What the refusal to tolerate will more likely reflect is the balance of power, and the extent to which particular substantive or comprehesive views about the proper shape of a liberal society prevail. Might always comes clothed in the philosophy of right.

Liberalism is a political philosophy which is a response to the problem posed by human diversity, and by the differences and disagreements which emerge whenever human beings try to live together. A liberalism which maintains that the liberal state is, or should be, reflective of a liberal theory of the good suffers from one important limitation. It cannot accommodate those who reject the liberal theory of the good—though it can coerce them into accepting it when they are in the minority. A liberalism which maintains that the liberal state should be no more than an umpire suffers from a different limitation: it will accommodate those who are themselves illiberal, since it allows for a wide diversity.

In reality, however, neither version can plausibly prevail on its own. A liberal state dominated by a liberal theory of the good—by a particular conception of justice—will find itself pressed by those who dissent from the orthodoxy. To the extent that they are not suppressed, this will be because the principles of the liberal theory of justice are dishonoured or ignored. A liberal state dominated by the more minimal liberalism of the independent umpire will find itself pressured to inject greater substantive content into its determinations. As Tocqueville observed of the liberal state that was nineteenth-century American democracy, there is always a tendency towards centralization and standardization under the influence of the voice of the majority. And, one might add, of the powerful. In these circumstances, can there be any reason to argue for one particular tendency? Indeed in some ways it might seem faintly naive, if not entirely quixotic, to devote an entire work to imagining a world that can never be. The march of the twentieth century has been down the road of rationalization, heading in a direction Max Weber thought unalterable, towards the creation of the modern sovereign state. This is an entity which is not only territorial but also internally sovereign, recognizing no higher authority within its borders, and maintaining its right to hold a monopoly of violence. What reason could there be for trying to conceive of matters differently?

One reason is that it is important not to lose sight of the fact that what seems natural and inevitable is all too often merely contingent. And so it is with the modern state. There is nothing inevitable about this form of social organization, or natural about this form of demarcating authority. It is worth pointing out that what is presented as essential and important is only a tendency; and a troubling one.

A second reason is that the longing for social unity that is so little questioned an ideal has, at its worst, led to the most horrifying outcomes, and most notably in the twentieth century.

Johan Huizinga

Erasmus and the Age of Reformation

'Without me,' says Folly, 'the world cannot exist for a moment. For is not all that is done at all among mortals, full of folly; is it not performed by fools and for fools?' 'No society, no cohabitation can be pleasant or lasting without folly; so much so, that a people could not stand its prince, nor the master his man, nor the maid her mistress, nor the tutor his pupil, nor the friend his friend, nor the wife her husband for a moment longer, if they did not now and then err together, now flatter each other; now sensibly conniving at things, now smearing themselves with some honey of folly.' In that sentence the summary of the Laus is contained. Folly here is worldly wisdom, resignation and lenient judgement.

He who pulls off the masks in the comedy of life is ejected. What is the whole life of mortals but a sort of play in which each actor appears on the boards in his specific mask and acts his part till the stage-manager calls him off? He acts wrongly who does not adapt himself to existing conditions, and demands that the game shall be a game no longer. It is the part of the truly sensible to mix with all people, either conniving readily at their folly, or affably erring like themselves.

And the necessary driving power of all human action is 'Philautia,' Folly's own sister: self-love. He who does not please himself effects little. Take away that condiment of life and the word of the orator cools, the poet is laughed at, the artist perishes with his art.

Folly in the garb of pride, of vanity, of vainglory, is the hidden spring of all that is considered high and great in this world. The state with its posts of honour, patriotism and national pride; the stateliness of ceremonies, the delusion of caste and nobility—what is it but folly? War, the most foolish thing of all, is the origin of all heroism. What prompted the Deciuses, what Curtius, to sacrifice themselves? Vainglory. It is this folly which produces states; through her, empires, religion, law-courts, exist.

This is bolder and more chilling than Machiavelli, more detached than Montaigne. But Erasmus will not have it credited to him: it is Folly who speaks. He purposely makes us tread the round of the circulus vitiosus, as in the old saw: A Cretan said, all Cretans are liars.

Wisdom is to folly as reason is to passion. And there is much more passion than reason in the world. That which keeps the world going, the fount of life, is folly. For what else is love? Why do people marry, if not out of folly, which sees no objections? All enjoyment and amusement is only a condiment of folly. When a wise man wishes to become a father, he has first to play the fool. For what is more foolish than the game of procreation?

Unperceived the orator has incorporated here with folly all that is vitality and the courage of life. Folly is spontaneous energy that no one can do without. He who is perfectly sensible and serious cannot live. The more people get away from me, Stultitia, the less they live. Why do we kiss and cuddle little children, if not because they are still so delightfully foolish. And what else makes youth so elegant?

Now look at the truly serious and sensible. They are awkward at everything, at meal-time, at a dance, in playing, in social intercourse. If they have to buy, or to contract, things are sure to go wrong. Quintilian says that stage fright bespeaks the intelligent orator, who knows his faults. Right! But does not, then, Quintilian confess openly that wisdom is an impediment to good execution? And has not Stultitia the right to claim prudence for herself, if the wise, out of shame, out of bashfulness, undertake nothing in circumstances where fools pluckily set to work?

Here Erasmus goes to the root of the matter in a psychological sense. Indeed the consciousness of falling short in achievement is the brake clogging action, is the great inertia retarding the progress of the world. Did he know himself for one who is awkward when not bending over his books, but confronting men and affairs?

Folly is gaiety and lightheartedness, indispensable to happiness. The man of mere reason without passion is a stone image, blunt and without any human feeling, a spectre or monster, from whom all fly, deaf to all natural emotions, susceptible neither to love nor compassion. Nothing escapes him, in nothing he errs; he sees through everything, he weighs everything accurately, he forgives nothing, he is only satisfied with himself; he alone is healthy; he alone is king, he alone is free. It is the hideous figure of the doctrinaire which Erasmus is thinking of. Which state, he exclaims, would desire such an absolutely wise man for a magistrate?

He who devotes himself to tasting all the bitterness of life with wise insight would forthwith deprive himself of life. Only folly is a remedy: to err, to be mistaken, to be ignorant is to be human. How much better it is in marriage to be blind to a wife's shortcomings than to make away with oneself out of jealousy and to fill the world with tragedy! Adulation is virtue. There is no cordial devotion without a little adulation. It is the soul of eloquence, of medicine and poetry; it is the honey and the sweetness of all human customs.

Again a series of valuable social qualities is slyly incorporated with folly: benevolence, kindness, inclination to approve and to admire.

But especially to approve of oneself. There is no pleasing others without beginning by flattering ourselves a little and approving of ourselves. What would the world be if everyone was not proud of his standing, his calling, so that no person would change places with another in point of good appearance, of fancy, of good family, of landed property?

Humbug is the right thing. Why should any one desire true erudition? The more incompetent a man, the pleasanter his life is and the more he is admired. Look at professors, poets, orators. Man's mind is so made that he is more impressed by lies than by the truth. Go to church: if the priest deals with serious subjects the whole congregation is dozing, yawning, feeling bored. But when he begins to tell some cock-and-bull story, they awake, sit up, and hang on his lips.

To be deceived, philosophers say, is a misfortune, but not to be deceived is a superlative misfortune. If it is human to err, why should a man be called unhappy because he errs, since he was so born and made, and it is the fate of all? Do we pity a man because he cannot fly or does not walk on four legs? We might as well call the horse unhappy because it does not learn grammar or eat cakes. No creature is unhappy, if it lives according to its nature. The sciences were invented to our utmost destruction; far from conducing to our happiness, they are even in its way, though for its sake they are supposed to have been invented. By the agency of evil demons they have stolen into human life with the other pests. For did not the simple-minded people of the Golden Age live happily, unprovided with any science, only led by nature and instinct? What did they want grammar for, when all spoke the same language? Why have dialectics, when there were no quarrels and no differences of opinion? Why jurisprudence, when there were no bad morals from which good laws sprang? They were too religious to investigate with impious curiosity the secrets of nature, the size, motions, influence of the stars, the hidden cause of things.

It is the old idea, which germinated in antiquity, here lightly touched upon by Erasmus, afterwards proclaimed by Rousseau in bitter earnest: civilization is a plague.

Wisdom is misfortune, but self-conceit is happiness. Grammarians, who wield the sceptre of wisdom—schoolmasters, that is—would be the most wretched of all people if I, Folly, did not mitigate the discomforts of their miserable calling by a sort of sweet frenzy. But what holds good of schoolmasters, also holds good of poets, orators, authors. For them, too, all happiness merely consists in vanity and delusion. The lawyers are no better off and after them come the philosophers. Next there is a numerous procession of clergy: divines, monks, bishops, cardinals, popes, only interrupted by princes and courtiers.

Thomas Haskell

Objectivity Is Not Neutrality

Historically speaking, capitalism requires conscience and can even be said to be identical with the ascendancy of conscience. This 'tremendous labor' of instinctual renunciation on which promise keeping rests—a labor that even Nietzsche, a reckless critic of renunciation, felt obliged to endorse and make the starting point for his 'sovereign individual' (one whose freedome would continue to be conditioned by his promises)—is an absolute prerequisite for the emergence of possessive individualism and market society. The individual cannot be said to possess his capacity to perform labor at some future time, or to be free to dispose of his labor to others for due compensation, until he is 'self-possessed'—until, in other words, he can overcome his 'healthy' forgetfulness and feel obliged to act on long chains of will. And in the reciprocal manner that always holds between institutions and character, the practices and traits of personality that the market presupposes as a condition of its existence, it also induces and perpetually reinforces.

Conscience and promise keeping emerged in human history, of course, long before capitalism. Moreover, promise keeping is not merely a free-standing psychological trait but a cultural practice, deeply embedded in a fabric of social relationships and dependent in part on an effectively institutionalized threat of force in the event of noncompliance. But it was not until the eighteenth century, in Western Europe, England, and North America, that societies first appeared whose economic systems depended on the expectation that most people, most of the time, were sufficiently conscience-ridden (and certain of retribution) that they could be trusted to keep their promises. In other words, only then did promise keeping become so widespread that it could be elevated into a general social norm. Only to the extent that such a norm prevails can economic affairs be based on nothing more authoritative than the obligations arising out of promises. And a growing reliance on mutual promises, or contractual relations, in lieu of relations based on status, custom, or traditional authority comes very close to the heart of what we mean by 'the rise of capitalism.'

Both the growing force of the norm of promise keeping and its synchronization with the spread of market relations are clearly inscribed in the history of the law of contract. A contract is, of course, an exchange of promises, and as such the law of contract provides us with a direct measure of the centrality of promise keeping in society. But the significance of the rising trajectory that we can trace in the history of Anglo-American contract law is not limited to this, for, in addition to being an exchange of promises, every contract is also an ensemble of mutually contingent recipes. When people enter into contractual relations, each commits himself to bring to pass some designated future event, usually without bothering to spell out the intricate but taken-for-granted sequence of mundane cause-and-effect connections that he plans to rely on.

Melvin Konner

The Tangled Wing

The twenty-first-century actresses and models we idolize would be a poor bet to bring a healthy infant to term, much less to lactate. But the women whose images grace our great museums had just the ripeness needed. Among our ancestors, the woman who matched this ideal would have enough energy in the bank to make childbearing safe and healthy without slowing down a very active life. The men attracted to her were no fools. What appealed to them—unconsciously, since they didn't do the calculation—was reproductive readiness. Why moderns like women who look like girls remains a mystery and a tribute to the role of culture and learning in setting sexual responses. Women now signal high status by looking as close to the edge of starvation as they can—pubescent girls for the first half of their lives, social X-rays for the second—they are that sure of their future wealth and comfort.

Most of our ancestors, unfortunately, could not keep enough weight on to attain the Titian ideal. Even the !Kung are no exception to the rule about shortages. In the 1960s and 1970s economic anthropologist Marshall Sahlins made a habit of referring to them as 'the original affluent society'—a strange way to describe a group of people with a 50 percent childhood mortality rate, resulting in a life expectancy at birth of thirty years. To be fair, Sahlins was referring to their apparent dietary sufficiency, their seemingly adequate leisure time, and above all their sense of satisfaction with their lives. But all three claims are controversial.

Excellent studies by Richard Lee showed that the !Kung spent just a few hours a day, a few days a week, in the food quest; that they had many leisure activities; that their diet was well balanced; that they did not exhaust their environment's food supply; that their caloric intake was just above the minimum needed for their size and weight; and that they did not aspire to the more well-to-do herding and agricultural life of their Bantu neighbors. Subsequent work, however, called some of these findings into question. Spending just a few hours a day and a few days a week in the food quest is impressive, but many more hours are spent making tools and weapons, curing skins, preparing and cooking food, making clothing, and planning future hunting-and-gathering expeditions—none of which was included in the initial research on !Kung work. If what lawyers and judges do is work, then when the !Kung sit up all night at a meeting debating a hotly contested divorce, they are also working. If what psychotherapists and ministers do is work, then a !Kung man or woman who spends hours in an enervating trance trying to cure people is working as well. Furthermore, the !Kung are often ill, with physical complaints apparent to anyone who visits them. They suffer endemic diseases including malaria, gut infections, parasites, and tuberculosis, among others. Most women spend the years from nineteen to forty-five either pregnant or nursing, a further major drain. Considering these facts about physical condition, we must also ask whether some of what looked like leisure to earlier investigators was perhaps just not feeling well. When people are feeling poorly they may not work, but that doesn't qualify as leisure.

As for available food left unused, that claim also requires scrutiny. Palatability and ease of access enhance eating, especially in the obese but also in normal people. Mongougo nuts are tasty and nutritious—they are the !Kung staff of life—but even a !Kung can eat only so many of them. If a woman who has eaten little else for a week straight declines an opportunity to take yet another ten-mile trek to the farther mongongo groves in the heat, carrying a child, and even chooses to skip a meal that day instead, this is not necessarily evidence that she is affluent. Perhaps she has merely made a cost-benefit analysis that allows the nuts to rot on the ground. Shortages of food were probably seasonal, and Edwin Wilinsen, who studied !Kung diet in the 1970s and 1980s, concluded that annual shortages result in significant weight loss (five to ten pounds) just as in Gambian farmers. In the end, both Lee and Wilmsen have a piece of the truth: Lee helped correct the widespread impression that hunting-and-gathering life was an unremitting, desperate search for food, but Wilinsen showed that it is not ideal.

Nancy Howell, a demographer at the University of Toronto, analyzed the !Kung population and found that food shortages help to explain its very slow growth. Her model of infertility draws on that of Rose Frisch. According to this widely accepted theory, fertile ovarian cycles are unlikely below a certain minimum level of body fat. Although the !Kung picture is not this simple, caloric insufficiency probably plays some role in lowering their fertility, by helping to lengthen birth spacing to four years. And then there are the mortality figures. How Sahlins could call such people affluent seems puzzling, but the argument goes something like this: the !Kung have lived in these same circumstances for thousands of years. Their continued existence in their present ecological situation would be impossible without high mortality, and they are used to it.

I do not buy this argument, and neither do the !Kung. Marjorie Shostak's book Nisa documented the life of a !Kung woman from her own narrative at age fifty-five, supplemented by Shostak's annotations. It was perhaps the most intimate life narrative ever collected from a 'primitive' person. Together with the follow-up study, Return to Nisa, which adds another fifteen years to the story, the account achieves unprecedented insight into the !Kung view of their own lives. Clearly they were not satisfied with their lot. They are neither at peace with nor inured to the many losses those bleak mortality curves deliver, and they are quite envious of people who are better off. Still, they are tough, good-humored, resilient, self-possessed, and generous. They are not self-pitying and they do not allow their poverty or the conditions of stress they endure to destroy their joy in life. The !Kung, with far greater challenges, generally whine much less than the average upper-middle-class American does in a mild recession or even during a gasoline price bump. To provide some idea of the absolute differences in these circumstances, there is little doubt that perhaps not the poorest 5 percent of Americans but the next poorest 5 percent would seem to the !Kung to possess fabulous wealth, comfort, and safety. Imagine sleeping in a bed! Imagine eating fruit that has more flesh than pit! Imagine a 95 percent chance that your child will live!

For the first few months after returning from my two years with the !Kung, I used to hear a phrase in my mind, in the !Kung language, one that would often have been on the lips of a !Kung, if one had been with me: 'Rich people, everywhere rich people.' I remember being in Harvard Square—one of the busiest corners in the world—on an ordinary autumn day, watching someone get out of an ordinary car in ordinary clothing. I stared and said it aloud: 'Rich people, everywhere rich people.' For years every time I scraped a plate into the sink—from the most modest of meals, and meals that by American standards were quite thoroughly eaten—I would hear one of my !Kung friends asking me, 'Are you a person who destroys food?' It was hard to throw out orange peels; !Kung women saved them to make perfume.

Peter Brown

The Body and Society

In the Roman world, the physical appearance and the reputed character of eunuchs acted as constant reminders that the male body was a fearsomely plastic thing. As Galen suggested, in his treatise On the Seed, lack of heat from childhood on could cause the male body to collapse back into a state of primary undifferentiation. No normal man might actually become a woman; but each man trembled forever on the brink of becoming 'womanish.' His flickering heat was an uncertain force. If it was to remain effective, its momentum had to be consciously maintained. It was never enough to be male: a man had to strive to remain 'virile.' He had to learn to exclude from his character and from the poise and temper of his body all telltale traces of 'softness' that might betray in him, the half-formed state of a woman. The small-town notables of the second century watched each other with hard, clear eyes. They noted a man’s walk. They reacted to the rhythms of his speech. They listened attentively to the telltale resonance of his voice. Any of these might betray the ominous loss of a hot, high-spirited momentum, a flagging of the clear-cut self-restraint, and a relaxing of the taut elegance of voice and gesture that made a man a man, the unruffled master of a subject world.

The maintenance of exacting codes of deportment was no trivial issue for the men of the second century. Entrusted by the formidable Roman government with the task of controlling their own cities, the elites of the Greek world (for whom and by whom the bulk of our evidence was written) learned rapidly and well how to bring upon their peers and their inferiors the 'gentle violence' of a studiously self-controlled and benevolent style of rule: 'avoidance of discord, gentle but firm control of the populace' were their principal political and social aims. They praised in each other qualities of gentleness, accessibility, self-control, and compassionate feeling. They expected to be treated in this courteous manner by the Emperor and by his representatives, and they were prepared to extend these gentle virtues to their loyal dependents: a man was to be 'fair-minded and humane' to his slaves, 'a father' to his household servants, and, always, 'at his ease' with his fellow-townsmen. Even their wetnurses must have such qualities: they must swaddle the little men meticulously, 'as Grecian women do,' so that they already learned to hold themselves correctly at the age of one.

Norman Stone

Europe Transformed

In the Habsburg Monarchy, bureaucracy was deliberately used as a device for pre-empting minority nationalism. If sufficient Slovenes, Czechs or Poles were given State jobs, with a pension attached, they would have no incentive to pursue secessionist causes. Roughly a third of all students in Austrian universities therefore took law degrees and headed for jobs in the bureaucracy, for which a training in law (especially 'administrative law' or Verwaltungsrecht) was an essential preliminary. In other countries, the imperialist coalitions around 1900 had absorbed dissident young men in a drive for empire. The Habsburgs could not do this, for they were too weak. Instead, in the era of Ernst Korber (which ended in 1904) they spent government money building up government concerns, such as canals and railway lines. It all made for more bureaucracy and more law degrees.

In the more backward countries, such growing bureaucracy could be dangerous. It amounted to a social reiolution of a sort. The old 'notables'—landowners, for the greater part—began to lose their control of the countryside in the 1890s. The days when caciquismo ruled Spain, when a family of bosses (caciques) like the Pidals in the Asturias could run a locality, securing tax concessions, exemptions from conscription, post-office jobs and even 'fixed' trials for their clients, all in return for votes, were going: not least because by 1900 even larger estates were suffering from the rise in costs, and everywhere, without exception, were registering a perceptible fall in surface area. In Ireland, Spain, Sicily or Russia, whether the government attempted land reform or not, the great estates were in decline. In these parts, there was usually not much industry or commerce to revive the economy; more and more, government jobs were the only way ahead. In Italy, it was said, 'in the south, the only industry is power.' A government job, the prefect, the various hired thugs of the mafia or, in Naples, the camorra, were parasitical. In Russia, the police department was often part of the underworld. Anti-Semitism was tolerated and sometimes organized by the police, and it flared up in a context of declining great estates, in the western Ukraine or Bessarabia, the capital of which, Kishinyov, produced a notorious pogrom in 1903. In the province of Tver, a governor, Aklestyshev, actually did appoint men with criminal records to deal with the local representative council. The Irish Home Rulers became, in their enemies' eyes, a huge 'machine,' especially when English forms of local government were extended to Ireland in 1898. The city administration of Naples was dismissed fourteen times by government decree because of its corruption. There was a startling illustration of the problem in 1908, when the Sicilian city of Messina was wrecked by an earthquake and a tidal wave. From all over Italy and subsequently from all over Europe, money and volunteers arrived to restore the city and its stricken inhabitants. But the tons of goods and thousands of lire passed without difficulty into the hands of local 'bosses' and were sold off elsewhere.

In the west, the new bureaucracy also gained power, although that power could plausibly be represented as progressive. Senior civil servants could in effect dictate government policies, as was done by Morant at education, Llewellyn Smith or Askwith in matters of industry, or, in France, Arthur Fontaine at labour or Monod at education. In Great Britain, until shortly before this era, feudal institutions had survived: parish vestries, grand juries and quarter-sessions had been uneasily adapted to modern needs. The administrative reform, when it came, was too hasty and ill-thought-out, especially in its financing—the rating system, which was both oppressive and ineffectual. British towns did become healthier in this period, but the process really depended on their capacity to attract loans, which the city of Liverpool had pioneered in 1880, at a time of low interest-rates. In general, the expansion of bureaucracy in Great Britain compared badly with continental experience, since there was virtually no corpus of law to control the bureaucrats. In France (and, by extension, most other countries influenced by Napoleon) there was a droit administratif, over which the Cour des comptes presided. In England, the bureaucrats made it up as they went along, and could have gone much further than they did, only, in this era, they were held up by the extraordinary (in continental eyes) respect for property that English Common Law preserved.