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The Two Narratives of Political Economy

The Two Narratives of Political Economy

Nicholas Capaldi (Editor), Gordon Lloyd (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-01168-3

Jan 2011

510 pages



Captures the 17th-19th century origins and developments ofpolitical economy by editing original texts and illuminatingtheir relevance for today's political debate

Political economy from the 17th century to the present can be captured in two narratives originating with Locke and Rousseau. Those original narratives were expanded in significant ways in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the editors argue that they still hold sway today.

Edited original writings included in the anthology are from: Locke, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Tocqueville, Mill, Marx, Proudhon, Owen, the Federalist Papers, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, and the American Constitution. The editors have restricted their comments to the extensive introductions thereby allowing the original participants to speak for themselves. The readings included are intended to be instructive with respect to the origin and development of the two narratives rather than an exhaustive account of how thinkers and writers on economics advance the discipline of economics as a social science.


"The editors provide a compelling collection to critically frame the clash of Political Economy which shapes modern democracies. Their selections and introductions expertly paint a picture of the contending schools to suggest how enduring these core challenges remain. By placing these writers within this great debate, the authors guide students to discover the essential questions of liberty, equality, and the proper role of the state at the core of the American economic debate."
Roberta Q. Herzberg, Utah State University Political Science

"The real service performed by Capaldi and Lloyd is to provide generous excerpts from supporters of both narratives so that the reader can determine for themselves who best makes their case. I recommend this volume highly both to the individual interested in learning about the intellectual and political history of political economy and to the professor in search of a one-volume anthology on political economy for use in a course on economic thought."
Steven D. Ealy, Senior Fellow, Liberty Fund, Inc.

Editors' Note.

General Introduction.

Part One: The Emergence of Political Economy: Economic Activity Leaves the Household


John Locke The Second Treatise.

John Locke A Letter Concerning Toleration.

John Locke Some Considerations of the Lowering of Interest and the Raising the Value of Money.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Two Discourses.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau A Discourse on Political Economy.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Social Contract.

Part Two: The Arrival of Political Economy: Liberty, Property, and Equality.


Adam Smith Wealth of Nations.

Adam Smith The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

The American Founding.

Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America.

The French Revolution.

Robert Owen A New View of Society.

Comte de Saint-Simon Nouveau Christianisme.

Friedrich List National System.

P. J. Proudhon The Philosophy of Poverty.

P. J. Proudhon What is Property?

Part Three: The Maturation of the Two Narratives: The Challenge of Social Economy.


John Stuart Mill The Principles of Political Economy.

John Stuart Mill On Liberty.

John Stuart Mill The Subjection of Women.

Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels The Communist Manifesto.

Karl Marx Das Kapital.

Fredrick Engels Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.


“Nonetheless, the book is impressive for its topical breadth … In this light, I’ll be very interested in seeing what an updated edition of this volume might look like in another decade or two.  (Conversations  on Philanthropy, 2012)