A blupete Essay

Notes, to blupete's Essay
"An Essay On Economics"

1 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Montaigne," Representative Men.

2 See blupete's essay, "The Nature of Man," and, particularly, that part on self-interest.

3 "On Mr. Mill's Theory of Value" as found in The Fortnightly Review Vol. xix, 1876.

4 It should not be understood that because one pursues a course of activity that is to that person's own advantage or welfare, that it is, therefore, to the exclusion of regard for others. It was Frederick Bastiat who wrote, "If we are free, ... Does it follow that we shall no longer recognize the power and goodness of God? Does it follow that we shall then cease to associate with each other, to help each other, to love and succor our unfortunate brothers, to study the secrets of nature, and to strive to improve ourselves to the best of our abilities?" No, of course not!

5 "The Science of History" as found in Essays of British Essayists (New York: The Colonial Press, 1900) vol. II, pp. 280-1.

6 Capitalism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991) p. 160.

7 Economics is certainly a good example of a topic which state paid academics study endlessly putting out one ponderous tome after another. "Some economic historians have written chapters designed to answer such questions as to whether trade arises from industry or industry from trade, whether transport develops markets or markets give occasion for transport. They have concerned themselves with inquiries as to where the demand comes from that makes production possible. Whenever a real problem is encountered, it is passed over with some such comment as that 'a crises arose' or that 'speculation became rife,' though why or what nature is rarely disclosed. And, when details are given, logic is often thrown to the winds. ... Ignorance of the elements of economic theory led historians to give political interpretations to every favourable trend." [T. S. Ashton, "The Treatment of Capitalism by Historians," as found in Capitalism and the Historians (University of Chicago Press, 1963) pp. 54-5.]

8 I liken an economist to a person who goes about the "business" of attempting to analyze a billiard game. It is, I suggest, a very difficult problem to predict one shot in the game, let alone the movement of the balls throughout the entire game. It must be borne in mind that the field of economics has undergone a remarkable expansion in the 20th century, and that today, economists are employed in large numbers in private industry, government, and in our institutions of higher education. Economists are the modern day Merlins of our society. Politicians, greedy for power, point to economists in their attempt to justify the expenditure of the people's resources on an artificial Keynesian system, a system which does not deliver to any but those who run it.

9 These innate or instinctual feelings or emotions which impact the family system are governed by tradition, that is to say, evolved rules for living. The attitudes and emotions appropriate to behaviour in small groups, attitudes supported by the political doctrines of "socialism", are attitudes which, as F. A. Hayek states in his book, The Fatal Conceit (University of Chicago Press, 1989), are archaic and primitive and, while essential to the operation of the family are harmful to the extended economic system. As Hayek observed "conflict between an individual's emotions and what is expected of him in an extended order is virtually inevitable: innate responses tend to break through the network of learnt rules that maintain civilization." Hayek continued with his observations, if "we were to apply the unmodified, uncurbed, rules of the micro-cosmos (i.e. of the small band or troop, or of, say, our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilisation), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings often make us wish to do, we would destroy it. Yet if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them. So we must learn to live in two sorts of world at once." (See Hayek's The Fatal Conceit, pp. 6,18 & Appendix D, page 152.)

10 Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, 1873.

11 "As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator. In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth, we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility." (Mill's essay on Utilitarianism, Chapter 2).

12 The Fatal Conceit, p. 83.

13 Ibid., pp. 98-99.

14 The Poverty of Historicism, 1957, (Routledge, 1969) p. 26. The fundamental thesis of this book is that the belief in historical destiny is sheer superstition, and that there can be no prediction of the course of human history by scientific or any other rational method. It is dedicated to the memory of the countless men and women of all creeds or nations or races who fell victims to the Fascist and communist belief in Inexorable Laws of Historical Destiny.

15 The word "society" gives one the impression of a large cooperative group; it presupposes or implies that the group is engaged in "a common pursuit of shared purposes that usually can be achieved only by conscious collaboration." The word is derived from the Latin societas, meaning an interconnection of one individual with another or others, it is where one personally knows another. Now the plain fact is, in this life, there is not too many other individuals that any one of us personally know. (See Prof. Hayek's book The Fatal Conceit, Chapter Seven, "Our Poisoned Language.")

16 An analysis of Smith's Wealth of Nations (Bk 1, CH. 2) yielded this: "Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another" that in which we are in need of. "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." In our dealings with others we get what we want by appealing to their wants. Outside of being a beggar, we get what we want "by treaty, by barter, and by purchase."

17 Curious how "the more things improve the louder become the exclamations about their badness. ... as the evil decreases the denunciation of it increases; and as fast as natural causes are shown to be powerful there grows up the belief that they are powerless. ... it is not a question of absolute evils; it is a question of relative evils ..." (Spencer, as found in his introduction to the book, A Plea for Liberty (New York: Appleton, 1891).

18 In a speech to the American senate, 1832.

19 See Prof. Hayek's book The Fatal Conceit, pp. 14,84,104.

20 Capitalism (1990); (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991) p. 51.

21 Ibid., p. 210.

22 Wm. H. McNeill, from his 1981 lecture, "A Defence of World History," Royal Society Lecture, as cited by Prof. Hayek in his book, The Fatal Conceit, at page 90.

23 The Fatal Conceit, pp. 91,94.

24 "Property, book II."

25 The Fatal Conceit, page 95 & 97.

26 The English Constitution,1867 (Oxford University Press, 1928) at p. 105.

27 Ibid.

28 "Economic performance under capitalist government is more exposed to criticism than economic performance under socialist government because the exponents of capitalist values are less committed by philosophical belief to capitalist government than are the exponents of socialist values to socialist government." (Arthur Seldon's Capitalism, p. 286.)

29 The Lessons of History (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968) pp.54-5.

30 Capitalism, pp. 191-2.

31 Economic Philosophy (1962) (Pelican, 1966) p. 28.

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Peter Landry
2011 (2019)