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Showing posts from October 16, 2022

looting and heroic failure: the Liz Truss episode

  William Hazlitt, unlike Coleridge or Wordsworth, was not only an admirer, initially, of the French Revolution, but believed in its principles to his dying day. He saw the turn to the right of the Romantics – the intellectuals of his generation – as a betrayal. I look back at the first Cold War as the Burkian war – the war of the anicen regime powers against the French revolution – and in those terms Hazlett plays the role of the unreconstructed fellow traveller. He had company. Byron was scathing about the rightwing British establishment – appealing to an earlier Whig notion of liberty. And of course Shelley was always there on the battlements. But Hazlitt was not a poet, but an essayist. In fact, one of the great English essayists, to the embarrassment of his Victorian posterity. John Stuart Mill could resurrect Coleridge, in search of a liberal consensus, but not Hazlitt. This is one of the reasons that the English universities, usually so meticulous in producing “collected works