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Concluding remarks

Among the causes which prevented earlier appreciation of Marshall’s evolutionary thought, I would give prominence to his conception of continuous time, which soon appeared obsolete and unrealistic, especially from 1914 onwards, when a new cultural atmosphere prevailed and the certainties of the Victorian era were lost. The principle of continuity branded his thought as irremediably wrong in the eyes of the new generations and drove a wedge between him and authors like Schumpeter and Keynes. Moreover, stress on continuity helped to conceal his evolutionary model, which is better represented by a dialectical succession of continuous and discontinuous movements. Or rather, this is the impression one has when reflecting on ‘Ye machine’, where the slow speed of growth of the whole system is accompanied by the frenzied leaps of its inner energy while

the continuous build-up of automatisms can be dissected into its component parts. The path of industrial progress is similar. Where continuity rules supreme in Marshall’s system is in the overall pattern of social change and this typically Victorian bias – though no less reasonable than the contrasting vision which later came to prevail – could not stand the test of two devastating world wars.