The Classical Dynamics of Hume, Smith, Ricardo and Malthus
Chapter 1: Historical Dynamics: Cosmopolitan and International
I Historical Dynamics : Cosmopolitan and International To declaim against the present times, and magnify the virtue of remote ancestors, is a propensity almost inherent in human nature. David Hume, OfRefinement in the A r t s I Vision and Analysis T h e past, it is often observed, must be viewed from the present. Indeed, histories of economic thought are often as revealing of the period in which they were written as they are of the period they examine. I n these essays I seek to further our understanding of Hume’s, Smith’s, Ricardo’s, and Malthus’s conception and analysis of economic growth and openness in ‘advanced’ countries. A t the moment classical economics is most often called t o the assistance of a sub-discipline called development economics. As Myint’s work brilliantly illustrates, there is much to be learned from the classical economists which is relevant to the understanding of presently developing countries. There is, however, an unfortunate tendency to lose sight of the fact that the better part of classical writings consciously addressed the situation of relatively advanced nations.’ We will see that each of our authors was conscious of living-at least part of the time-in a nation that enjoyed a generally high standard of living relative to the past and, more importantly, high relative to neighboring countries. An advanced economy n o t only enjoyed a high standard of living; it was also ‘improved’: a catch-all phrase indicating the possession of skill, capital, and above all technology. While America enjoyed...
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