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The Militarization of the State: Armaments, Popular Navalism, and the Liberal Party

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Abstract

When A. J. P. Taylor compared the defence expenditure of the European states in the half-century before the First World War, he found himself confronted with the ‘paradoxical appearance’ that, by this measure, ‘for most of the period Great Britain was the most militaristic of the Great Powers’.1 More recent scholarship has questioned and refined these findings, noting that by 1914 British defence expenditure in absolute terms had been significantly outstripped by that of Germany and Russia. Moreover, following a spike in military spending during the Boer War, British defence expenditure as a percentage of gross national product was lower than that in France, Germany, and Russia for most of the decade preceding the outbreak of the First World War, and by 1913 was also lower than that in Italy and Austria-Hungary. On the other hand, per capita defence spending in Britain — a measure used by many contemporaries — was the highest among the European powers for almost all of the same period, and British defence spending as a proportion of total public expenditure remained higher than in either Germany or France.2

Keywords

  • Free Trade
  • Liberal Party
  • Liberal Government
  • Defence Expenditure
  • Parliamentary Seat

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Notes

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© 2013 Matthew Johnson

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Johnson, M. (2013). The Militarization of the State: Armaments, Popular Navalism, and the Liberal Party. In: Militarism and the British Left, 1902–1914. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137274137_4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137274137_4

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-44551-6

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