Looking Back at Mr Spectator, given Srebenica: A tail-piece

Robert Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Robert Clark asks how we should understand Mr Spectator's belief in disengaged conversation and polite observation in the light of the spectatorial relationship struck by UN observers and journalists when confronting the Srebenica massacres. Through an examination of The Spectator's belief in free trade as conducive to the spread of peace and rationality, and consideration of Adam Smith's theory of the ‘impartial spectator’ in Theory of Moral Sentiments, Clark proposes that Mr Spectator's ideology necessarily occludes the extensive violence of eighteenth-century mercantilism, just as modern free traders, such as George W. Bush, deny the violence that is used to achieve their commercial ends. One consequence is an inability for Mr Spectator's descendants to know how to respond to unmeasurable horror.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-388
Number of pages16
JournalMedia History
Issue number3
Early online date4 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • commerce
  • trade
  • reason
  • rationality
  • spectatorship
  • atrocity

Cite this