Politics, Propaganda and Numbers

  • D. C. M. Platt


I mentioned in Chapter 1 how Paish’s estimates entered conventional wisdom by way of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Board of Trade, the League of Nations, the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the United Nations. In Chapter 2 we have seen how vulnerable these numbers turned out to be. I should now explain the peculiar circumstances that persuaded a majority of Paish’s contemporaries to accept his estimates and even to welcome them. Keynes, who in a few words was virtually to demolish the argument in Paish’s second paper (1911), had been glad enough to use the estimates from Paish’s first paper when they were needed to establish his point against Fair Traders.1 The convenience of a long run of figures, whether from Paish or from Imlah, has been much appreciated ever since.


Foreign Investment Fair Trader Free Trader Royal Statistical Society Financial Adviser 
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  1. 1.
    For example, J. M. Keynes, ‘Great Britain’s Foreign Investments’, New Quarterly (Feb. 1910), reprinted in Elizabeth Johnson (ed.), The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. XV (1971) pp. 54 ff. Keynes excused himself by explaining that Paish’s estimates, although they did not ‘pretend to be accurate in detail’, might still ‘show reliably the dimensions of the sums in question’.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    E. Staley, War and the Private Investor: A Study in the Relations of International Politics and International Private Investment (Chicago, 1935) p. 523.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    P. F. Clarke, ‘The End of Laissez-Faire and the Politics of Cotton’, Historical Journal, XV, 3 (1972) p. 512. He has written more fully on the subject in his Liberals and Social Democrats (Cambridge, 1978).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    A. J. Marrison, ‘Businessmen, Industries and Tariff Reform in Great Britain, 1903–1930’. Business History, XXV, 2 (July 1983) p. 169.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Avner Offer, ‘Empire and Social Reform: British Overseas Investment and Domestic Politics’, Historical Journal, 26, 1 (1983) p. 125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 12.
    Y. Cassis, ‘The Banking Community of London, 1890–1914’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, XIII, 3 (May 1985) p. 121.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    A. J. Balfour, Economic Notes on Insular Free Trade (pamphlet, Oct. 1903) p. 7.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Hobson’s position is explained very fully, although not uncontroversially, by P. J. Cain, ‘J. A. Hobson, Cobdenism and the Radical Theory of Economic Imperialism, 1898–1914’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser. XXXI, 4 (Nov. 1978) pp. 565–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 22.
    J. A. Hobson, An Economic Interpretation of Investment (London, n.d., although based mainly on his articles in the Financial Review of Reviews published during the autumn of 1910) p. 102. His arguments drew again on Paish in his ‘Investment Safeguards under Changing Conditions’, Financial Review of Reviews (June 1914) pp. 643–54.Google Scholar
  10. 23.
    N. Angell, The Great Illusion (1910) p. 248.Google Scholar
  11. 24.
    H. N. Brailsford, The War of Steel and Gold: A Study of the Armed Peace (1914) pp. 63–88.Google Scholar
  12. 25.
    L. Chiozza Money, The Nation’s Wealth: Will it Endure? (1914) pp. 63–88.Google Scholar
  13. 32.
    H. C. Sonne, The City: Its Finance July 1914 to July 1915 and Future (London, 1915) pp. 90, 144.Google Scholar
  14. 34.
    Paish, ‘War Finance’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, LXXIX (May 1916) pp. 268, 299.Google Scholar
  15. 35.
    J. Stamp, ‘The Wealth and Income of the Great Powers’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, LXXXII (July 1919) pp. 463–70.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. C. M. Platt 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. C. M. Platt
    • 1
  1. 1.St Antony’s CollegeOxfordUK

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