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De te fabula narratur

Are there any limits to the Americanisation of Britain? Alan Ryan, who has just returned from nine years in the US, hopes that Britain will resist the punitive and religious enthusiasms from across the Atlantic, but argues that there is no alternative to copying the US model in higher education

By Alan Ryan   December 1996

When Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital, he knew that a sceptical reader might wonder why he had spent hundreds of pages reciting for German readers a contentious account of British economic history. De te fabula narratur-this is your story-was his reply. “The developed country shows to the less developed the image of its future.” This is an apt moment to wonder whether a modern Marx would want to tell the British, not that they show the future to Germany, but that the US displays their future to them. To put it more bluntly: is what Americans are getting from Bill…

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