Pluto Press Logo




On the Blog

Capitalism's Conscience

Capitalism's Conscience

200 Years of the Guardian

Edited by Des Freedman

A comprehensive and wide-ranging critique of the Guardian's journalism and political values

Since its inception in Manchester in 1821 as a response to the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, the Guardian has been a key institution in the definition and development of liberalism. The stereotype of the 'Guardianista', an environmentally-conscious, Labour-voting, progressively-minded public sector worker endures in the popular mythology of British press history.

Yet the title has a complex lineage and occupies an equivocal position between capital and its opponents. It has both fiercely defended the need for fearless, independent journalism and handed over documents to the authorities; it has carved out a niche for itself in the UK media as a progressive voice but has also consistently diminished more radical projects on the left.

Published to coincide with its 200th anniversary, Capitalism's Conscience brings together historians, journalists and activists in an appraisal of the Guardian's contribution to British politics, society and culture - and its distinctive brand of centrism. Contextualising some of the main controversies in which the title has been implicated, the book offers timely insights into the publication's history, loyalties and political values.

Des Freedman is Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London and an editor of the journal Global Media and Communication. He is the co-editor of The Assault on Universities (Pluto, 2011), and author of The Politics of Media Policy (Polity, 2008), Television Policies of the Labour Party (Routledge, 2003) and War and the Media (Sage, 2003).

'A lively and well-researched history and critique of Britain's best newspaper, exposing the ideological contradictions and editorial tensions which generally keep the 'Guardian' allied to a soft liberalism but shies away from radical or socialist answers to capitalism's recurring crises' - Jonathan Steele, former Chief Foreign Correspondent for the 'Guardian'

'A page turner - reveals the liberal establishment in all its ingloriousness, sprinkled with a few moments of integrity' - Beverley Skeggs, Professor, Sociology, Lancaster University

'Liberalism typically champions particular campaigns for social justice but distances itself from challenges to the state and economy that produces these injustices. At last a book which reveals this serious problem. A must read for all Guardian readers!' - Hilary Wainwright, Founding Editor of 'Red Pepper' and author of 'A New Politics From the Left' (Polity Press, 2018)

Introduction: 'Just the Establishment' - Des Freedman
1. In the Wake of Peterloo? A Radical Account of the Founding of the Guardian - Des Freedman (Goldsmiths, University of London)
2. The Political Economy of the Guardian - Aaron Ackerley (Sheffield University)
3. Reflections from an Editor-at-large - Gary Younge (University of Manchester and former Guardian editor-at-large)
4. Radical Moments at the Guardian - Victoria Brittain (former Guardian associate foreign editor)
5. The Guardian and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Ghada Karmi (University of Exeter)
6. The Guardian and Latin America - Alan MacLeod (author of 'Bad News from Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting')
7. The Origins of the Guardian Women’s Page - Hannah Hamad (Cardiff University)
8. The Guardian and Neoliberal Feminism - Jilly Boyce Kay (University of Leicester) and Mareile Pfannebecker (University of Strathclyde)
9. The Guardian and Surveillance - Matt Kennard (co-founder Declassified) and Mark Curtis (co-founder Declassified)
10. The Guardian and Press Regulation - Natalie Fenton (Goldsmiths, University of London)
11. The Guardian and Corbynism - Justin Schlosberg (Birkbeck, University of London)
12. Guardian Journalists and Twitter Circles - Tom Mills (author of 'The BBC: Myth of a Public Service')
13. The Guardian and the Economy - Mike Berry (Cardiff University)
14. The Guardian and Brexit - Mike Wayne (Brunel University)
15. Liberalism, Populism and Euphemisation in the Guardian - Katy Brown (University of Bath), Aurelien Mondon (University of Bath) and Aaron Winter (University of East London)
Published by Pluto Press in Apr 2021
Paperback ISBN: 9780745343341
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745343358
eBook ISBN: 9780745343365

320 pages

135mm x 215mm

Related Content