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A little over 25 years ago, in the midst of the “Lawson boom” and the Thatcher government’s privatisation of major public utilities, David Marquand, the political writer, historian and former Labour MP, published a book entitled The Unprincipled Society. In it, he examined the “tacit understandings” that, in his view, lay at the root of the “adjustment problems” experienced by Britain’s political economy after the oil shock of 1973 and the crisis of “stagflation” that followed.

According to those understandings, society is nothing more than an aggregate of atomistic individuals and…

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