An argument lost

Letter from Sir Charles Macara

Letter from Sir Charles Macara

I found this 1913 article about Sir Charles Macara serendipitously when looking for the nearby article about the “suicide” of Emily Davison via Samizdata. It was on the same page of the original Times paper.

We know that the “employers” lost the initial argument over National Insurance and organised themselves after the event to fight for reform. They formed a Council and later an Association, and lobbied Parliament for reform to “the present measure”. That measure – the NI jobs tax – persists to this day, with the added problem of nationalised welfare provision.

For me this episode shows that companies have never enjoyed the strong position in the media they are sometimes thought to command. Okay, the Institute of Directors gets it’s fair share of quotes in the press but the debate seems to always go against big business. Enterprises need to watch for threats in arising from public opinion and watch what opinions are being fermented and spread by activist media. Forewarned, they should be able to organise in advance and may have a better chance.

This example from the Financial Times (discussed on the Silicon Roundabout blog) shows one future threat; the backlash against BigTech has only just started.



  1. Some points are clearly true – Parliament dominated by lawyers, not by men who had actually built up a business.

    And the central philosophical point is also true – regulations do not benefit “the workers”, the central lesson of classical liberalism is the long term harmony of the economic interests of employers and employees – the “exploitation” case is based upon economic fallacies.

    However look at the LANGUAGE – “capitalist class”, “masses”. Did the journalist put those words into Sir Charles Macara’s mouth? That would show who the media was really controlled by (even in 1913) . Or did the man “internalise” left language into his own thoughts? Once that is done effective resistance to the left is impossible – I would be willing to bet that the man’s father (certainly not his grandfather) never used the terms “capitalist class” and “the masses” in his life (“education” is at work here).

    And look at his suggestion – the government has copied Germany with its “National Insurance” (a scam that is not insurance at all), so we should copy Germany by forming an Industrial Federation (later to be called the Federation of British Industry, later still the Confederation of British Industry – both famous for their support for state intervention).

    This was not a speech – it was a suicide note.



    1. Ah so is that what happened to them! The Employers’ Parliamentary Association became the CBI? Yes, I see it is.

      So at foundation they sounded classical liberal and made reasonable arguments, now they have moved left? I am told that is not uncommon!



  2. Simon – It was no so much that they moved left, this language (this sectional, class, way of thinking) already damned them.



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