Republican thinking today relies heavily on a classical conception of citizenship. Can this ever be compatible with modern commercial society?
If there are resources in republicanism for re-thinking the contemporary economic order, it might be worth turning to a republican thinker who wrote on the topic of political economy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau in “A Discourse on Political Economy” articulated a key worry now held by various groups today, including the Occupy movement, dissatisfied with existing political responses on poverty, education, health care and economic opportunity.
Numerous questions pose themselves for political economists about the crisis – enough (never waste a good crisis) to keep PhDs engaged for a generation. But in my view there are two big picture questions which modern comparative political economy needs to answer. One is why the epicentre of the crisis was in Wall Street and the City of London. The other is this: the crisis occurred as a result of failures in the main regulatory frameworks – the financial and the macroeconomic – which govern much of the workings of advanced economies. Why, in sharp contrast to the 1930s, have these frameworks changed little since the crisis? These questions raise major issues for our understanding of modern capitalism and its …
On March 13th, 2007, the Bank of England issued a new series of bank notes. On the £20 note Adam Smith, the Scottish founder of the discipline of economics, replaced the composer Edward Elgar. If portraits on bank notes tell us anything about the spirit of their time, this seems to be a case in point. Smith’s portrait seems appropriate for a period in which the optimism about efficient free markets had reached a peak. But the cliché of who Adam Smith is, and the 18th-century scholar whom one encounters when turning to his writings in their entirety, are at a considerable distance. Of course it would be foolish to deny that Smith was an economist, if only because defining …
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