on its own account of itself

Ali Suat Ürgüplü

New Member
Hi everyone,

I am a bit puzzled over the following sentence from Tony Judt's When the Facts Change (p. 301, italics mine):

The railways were and remain the necessary and natural accompaniment to the emergence of civil society. They are a collective project for individual benefit. They cannot exist without common accord (and, in recent times, common expenditure), and by design they offer a practical benefit to individual and collectivity alike. This is something the market cannot accomplish—except, on its own account of itself, by happy inadvertence.

I know and use on its own account and of itself separately, but this is the first time I have seen them used together back-to-back, and I am a bit puzzled. I looked at the usual online dictionaries, googled it, and as far as I can tell, this appears to be the only instance of its use (some 8 counts turn up in a Google search). I take it to mean on its own account or of itself, but I would appreciate advice from a native speaker or some other authority.


  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You've misunderstood. It means what it literally says
    — except, on its own account of itself, by happy inadvertence.
    — except, as it [the market] describes itself, by happy inadvertence.

    (However, "according to its own account of itself" might have been clearer?)
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