Articles & blogs on historical perspective

Category: historical perspective

‘Two Hundred Years Back, One Hundred Years Ahead: From One Revolution to Another’

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.

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.”


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