After Adam Smith: A Century of Transformation in Politics and Political Economy

k9076In After Adam Smith: A Century of Transformation in Politics and Political Economy Murray Milgate & Shannon C. Stimson remind us that many intellectuals shaped different ways of thinking about economics and politics after Adam Smith- Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, James Mill, John Stuart Mill. They and other liberals, radicals, and reformers had a hand in conceptual transformations that culminated in the advent of neoclassical economics. By ignoring their contributions we risk misreading our past–and also misusing it–when thinking about the choices at the interface of economics and politics that confront us today.
The population problem, the declining importance of agriculture, the consequences of industrialization, the structural characteristics of civil society, the role of the state in economic affairs, and the possible limits to progress were questions that underwent significant readjustments as the thinkers who confronted them in different times and circumstances reworked the framework of ideas advanced by Smith–transforming the dialogue between politics and political economy. By the end of the nineteenth century an industrialized and globalized market economy had firmly established itself. By exploring how questions Smith had originally grappled with were recast as the economy and the principles of political economy altered during the nineteenth century, this book demonstrates that we are as much the heirs of later images of Smith as we are of Smith himself.
Milgate and Stimson produce a careful and detailed analysis of early economists’ ideas on issues shaping the modern concept of the political order and provided new insights about how the complex relations between liberal democratic politics and market institutions might be construed.

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