The Capitalist Who Transformed a Conservative UK


Jamie Hollywood writes on how a capitalist fundamentally changed the course of the egalitarian movement in the 20th Century, and helped lead the way to the emancipation of women, for the Adam Smith Institute.

Selfridge understood that capitalism is not a race to the bottom, because for
companies to succeed they need to please customers, and the greatest
weapon for change possessed by the masses is the power of the purse.

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And yet, the capitalist usually doesn’t risk his money trying to transform society. He may detect societal trends and try to profit from them. Any retailer has to get you into the store (even when it is a website) by making it a fun thing to do. Selfridge understood that many of his customers were women, and understood what they needed a shop to be. If he was a really good retailer, he would not have taken a public position for or against “emancipation” generally.