Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 36: Gustave de Molinari (1819–1912)

Alain Béraud


Gustave de Molinari was born in Liège, at that time a part of the Low Countries, on 3 March 1819. He went to Paris at the beginning of the 1840s where he became a journalist specializing in economic matters. He wrote especially in La Nation, Le Courrier français and La Réforme. In 1846 he was the co-founder of the Association pour la liberté des échanges, of which Frédéric Bastiat was the general secretary. During the 1848 Revolution he was a republican and opposed both monarchists and socialists. His first book, Les soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare was published in 1849. An opponent to Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, he returned to Belgium after the 2 December 1851 coup d’état. He acted as a professor of political economy at the Musée royal de l’industrie belge and at the Institut de commerce in Antwerp. He came back to France in 1867 and in 1871 became the chief editor of the Journal des débats. He remained in Paris during the siege of Paris and the Paris Commune, analysing the question of subsistence and the relevance of the rationing measures. From 1881, after the death of Joseph Garnier, until 1909 he served as the chief editor of the Journal des économistes. He died in Adinkerque, in Belgium, on 28 January 1912. Molinari thought that “human societies organize themselves, develop and progress by themselves, in accordance with laws inherent in their nature” (1861, I: v) and that “it...

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