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Memoria e Ricerca

The intellectual legacy of Alan S. Milward

di Frances M.B. Lynch, Fernando Guirao
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 41 (2012), p. 181

Alan S. Milward was a contemporary historian who combined the political historian’s method of consulting the written record with the economic historian’s use of statistical data and the social scientist’s preference for general theory. On the strength of the resulting research methodology he produced a series of original histories of Nineteenth and Twentieth century Europe which tackled the big historical issues of his time: the nature of Nazism; of total war; of economic development in Nineteenth and Twentieth century Europe; and the reasons for the sustained economic boom in western Europe after 1945 and for the origins of European integration. In so far as his conclusions on each separate theme challenged the dominant theories, they stimulated considerable debate. Indeed, his implicit theories of historical change and European integration continue to resonate in the current political and economic crises facing Europe. Unlike neo-classical economists, European federalists and many integration theorists, Milward argued that economic and monetary union would not necessarily lead to a democratic political union in Europe and the end of nation-state. Indeed he predicted in 2000 that if the European Monetary Union was beset by asymmetric shocks, it would weaken progressively until its desired effect had been so reduced as to defeat the Union’s original purpose. As we live through such asymmetric shocks, Milward’s predictions seem to carry more force than any of teleological theories of European integration. Key words: Alan S. Milward, Economic growth, European integration, Nazi Germany, Second World War, War economy