Reawakening: From the Origins of Economic Ideas to the Challenges of Our Time

Conference paper By

Download paper

The road towards a decent society; lessons from classical political economy

 “This essay is written in the classical tradition, making the classical assumption, and asking the classical question. The classics from Smith to Marx, all assumed, or argued, that an unlimited supply of labour was available at subsistence wages. They then enquired how production grows through time.” (Lewis, 1954)

There are several themes on which classical political economy could enhance our approach to development.[i] The general thread is the relationship between the needs and desires of human beings and the economic mechanisms which either favour or hinder their achievements. It is a relationship between the use value dimension of goods and services and the conditions which regulate their exchange value.

[i] Perhaps it is  not by chance that some of the most  careful development economists, most notably  Hirschman and Sen, go back to the thinkers of Enlightenment  in their works. Hirschman The Passions and the Interests, Political Arguments for Capitalism before its Triumph, 1977 Sen from On Ethics and Economics of 1987 till  2009 The Idea of Justice.

Conference paper By