John Maynard Keynes: The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920)

John Maynard Keynes, one of the most important British economists of the 20th century, wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920) in response to the Treaty of Versailles. Keynes in his piece focuses on Germany and uses them as a representation as to what will happen, economically, if citizens of these countries follow this treaty.

Keynes argues that Germany, with a booming population and a rapidly increasing industry, can’t survive with the treaty’s proposed sanctions.… Read the rest here

Early Socialist Thinkers: Owen, Saint-Simon, and Marx

1.) “The Legacy of Robert Owen to the Population of the World”

Author: Robert Owen. Welsh cotton manufacturer. Utopian socialist and a founder of the cooperative movement. Founder of (failed) New Harmony colony in the U.S. Had a vision of an ideal society.

Context: Great Britain, 1844. Industrial Revolution. Many of the Factory Acts were in place, including many that regulated child labor.

Language: Persuasive, confident, hopeful

Audience: The Grand National Consolidated Trades Union of Great Britain and Ireland

Intent: To persuade listeners to begin a bloodless revolution driven by morality and wisdom.… Read the rest here

Smith’s Wealth of Nations and Malthus’ Essay on Population

The Wealth of Nations, 1776

Author: Adam Smith was a Scottish moral philosopher, and is known as “the father of modern economics.” He enjoyed a thorough education at the University of Glasgow, and after graduating traveled around Europe as a tutor.

Context: Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations during the Industrial Revolution. It was published shortly after Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. At the time, Great Britain’s economy was booming, and it’s imperialist influence was spreading through Africa, the Americas, and Asia.… Read the rest here

Essay on Population and The Wealth go Nations

Essay on Population, 1798

Author: Thomas Mathus. Malthus was an English cleric and scholar, and was very influential in the fields of demography and political economics. He did not believe society was perfectible, and wrote in opposition to many Enlightened thinkers of his era.

Context-Famine was a fact of everyday life in England, even as agriculture was making major advances in efficiency and increased productions. However, the population continued to rise, and production of food was unable to meet demands.… Read the rest here

Post World War II European Economic Relations

The European Free Market Trade Area published in 1957 served as a post war petition to bring economic unity to various European states previously in political opposition. Trade barriers prevent potentially valuable communications for solidifying positive social relations; historically, one country preventing the means of trade of another either served as a product of, or enabled political tension. Economic homogenization assisting as a method of political unification remained a common strategic political policy throughout the remainder of the century.… Read the rest here

ACLAIM – Hobson

Author: John Hobson, English economist and English diplomat in southern Africa.

Context: During the middle of an economic depression in England which he attributed to the unsustainability in imperialist expansion.

Language: Language is very direct and highly critical. He was very well educated and the language in the document is not for an uneducated audience.

Audience: For the middle and upper classes mainly, ones who would understand simple to complex economics. Also for all modern economists at the time, especially in England.… Read the rest here

The Theory of the Leisure Class and Conspicuous Consumption

Author: Thorstein Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, along with being the leader of the institutional economics movement. He was born to Norwegian parents, and studied at well-known American colleges.

Context: The Theory of the Leisure Class was written in 1899, following the Industrial Revolution and during a time of more widespread prosperity as a result of industrialization.

Language:Using a didactic, matter-of-fact tone, Veblen uses the repetition of words such as “consumption”, “leisure”, “vicarious”, “superior”, “servants”, and “classes” to instill the key message of the work into readers’ minds.… Read the rest here

The Theory of the Leisure Class

Author: Thorstein Veblen was an American sociologist and economist born in Wisconsin in the year 1857. He was raised in a prosperous Norwegian household by his two parents, and he thrived as from an early age they instilled solid life values and beliefs in him. He studied at multiple prestigious colleges around the country. He wrote his most famous work The Theory of the Leisure Class, when he was in his forties.

Context: This piece was published in 1899, during a period known as the Gilded Age.… Read the rest here

The Economic Option

All three of the historians that we examined had different viewpoints regarding economics than did Adam Smith. While Smith believed laissez-faire capitalism was the best economic method a country could employ, his opponents (Marx, Saint-Simon and Owens) all believed that it belittled the poor to such an extent that it was not a viable option. Although the capitalist method increases production to unforeseen levels, it creates an undeniable divide between social classes. The owners of the companies become much richer than the working class people, while all they have to do is sit down and watch the money being made in front of their eyes.… Read the rest here

Comparison of Keynes and Versailles Treaty/Wilson’s Fourteen Points

As the founder of his eponymous economic school of thought, John Maynard Keynes contributed many influential theses on the economics of his day.  Nowhere is this more notable than in 1920’s The Economic Consequences of Peace, his controversial criticism of the Treaty of Versailles.  Keynes asserted that the Treaty would do little other than prolong and perhaps exacerbate the period of postwar unrest in Europe, noting that “the Treaty includes no provisions for the economic rehabilitation of Europe” (Keynes).  … Read the rest here