Articles & Blogs, Category = Historical perspective

Category: Historical perspective

The Enchantments of Mammon: How Capitalism Became the Religion of Modernity

Far from representing rationality and logic, capitalism is modernity’s most beguiling and dangerous form of enchantment, argues Eugene McCarraher, associate professor of humanities and history at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He recently published The Enchantments of Mammon: How Capitalism Became the Religion of Modernity (Harvard University Press, 2019).

Should We Be Anxious about the Future of Capitalism?

“Sassoon, Emeritus Professor of Comparative European History at Queen Mary, is hardly a dyed-in-the-wool free marketeer, and The Anxious Triumph; A Global History of Capitalism 1860-1914 is by no means a celebration of capitalism. There are frequent swipes at neoliberalism, free-market ideology and ‘untrammelled individualism’. […] But to this laissez-faire reader, the big-picture lesson from Anxious Triumph is an encouraging one, and all the more so for the fact that its author likely disagrees with me on quite a lot.”

How Ideologues Devalue and Dismiss Economics

“Economics is often dismissed as ideological, reductionist, and mendacious. In the United States we see these criticisms increasingly from both the political left and right. […] Carl Menger, one of the driving forces behind the marginal revolution in economics, was no stranger to these sorts of criticism. His essay, ‘The Social Theories of Classical Political Economy and Modern Economic Policy (1891),’ […] The entire essay is well worth reading and only recently available in English.”

Finance, Class, and the Birth of Neoclassical Economics: The Marginalist Revolution Revisited

“In economic textbooks, the concept of ‘value’ is regarded as nothing more than the prevailing market price. This definition might seem self-evident, but it stands in sharp contrast to the classical theories of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who used the notion of ‘value’ to probe beneath the surface of the market and discover objective factors that regulate economic exchanges. It was only in the late nineteenth century, when the idea of ‘marginal utility’ was first introduced into the field, that ‘value’ came to be viewed as a subjective measure that is reflected in prices.”

How Adam Smith Became a (Surprising) Hero to Conservative Economists

“Whatever your political leanings, one thing is clear: Smith speaks on both sides of a longstanding debate about the fundamental values of modern market-oriented society. But these arguments over Smith’s ideas and identity are not new. His complicated reputation today is the consequence of a long history of fighting to claim his intellectual authority.”

Vice or Virtue? Commercial Politeness according to Eighteenth-Century Thinkers

Commercial society as we know it today first arose in the eighteenth century. ‘Politeness’ was a buzzword in the fierce debate that was held on the newly arisen society’s moral (de)merits. Rousseau and Ferguson asked challenging questions about the conditions of political liberty, and the difficulty of, and potential limits to establishing a sincere, meaningful cosmopolitan moral culture. These questions still demand our attention, says Rudmer Bijlsma.

2008: A Retrospective on the Financial Crisis

Before 2008, mainstream economics thought a global economic crisis on the scale of the Great Depression was impossible. Then Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. A decade later, in a collection of articles, INET looks back at the causes of the global crisis in the financial markets, and what policymakers—and economists—must change to prevent another one.

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Principles of Political Economy

Principles of Political Economy (1848)

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