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4. Public Service and Private Profit

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Chapter Summary

The British state during the 'long eighteenth century' has largely followed the line established by P.G.M. Dickson and John Brewer in their respective works on the 'financial revolution' and the 'fiscal-military state'. The success of British arms in the War of the Spanish Succession reflected not only the tactical genius of the Duke of Marlborough but more professional and systematic fiscal-military administration that was under direct state control. Transparency and impartiality helped reduce both waste and corruption, enabling the more efficient extraction and deployment of resources by removing the contradiction between public service and private profit. In Dickson's words, the period 'marked the beginning of new and much more successful management of government finance as a whole'. Entrepreneurship, in other words, was obsolete and unnecessary, persisting only where vested interests or short-sighted political paranoia prevented the adoption of more effective bureaucratic systems.

Keywords: British; Duke of Marlborough; fiscal-military administration; John Brewer; P.G.M. Dickson; Spain

10.1163/9789004271302_006
/content/books/b9789004271302_006
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