Two hundred years ago, a seemingly megalomaniac and even hopeless project was started in the West: overcoming poverty by creating more prosperity. This project was called “Progress”. Two hundred years later we can only conclude that this project was more successful than we could have anticipated. However, this project also has some serious shadow sides. As humanity we have to start a new, at first sight almost equally megalomaniac project for the next hundred years: making our prosperity sustainable.
“From its birth in 1946 onward, corporations made possible and crucially supported the rise of the Chicago law and economics movement. Aaron Director, who at one point had advocated for curbing corporate power and vigorously enforcing antitrust law, spearheaded the effort to create a ‘new liberalism’.”
“An Irish landowner, economist, philosopher and defender of women’s rights, William Thompson was one the greatest Socialist figures before Marx. Nowadays neglected, his thought nevertheless has many echoes with important contemporary debates, from the critique of capitalism to the rise of feminism.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”