Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A new book on an almost forgotten economist

Undeservedly forgotten I might add.

Great review here:

The Virtues of the Market: Wilhelm Röpke as a Cultural Economist

More than other economists Röpke was willing to engage fully with the cultural dimension (and the religious dimension about which this book is curiously silent) of liberalism and markets. This meant that he was skeptical that liberal institutions had much of a chance in the absence of bourgeois and Christian culture. An unpopular point to make also in his day and age, and one that did not sit easily with his liberal universalism, but a point hard to ignore after Western attempts to spread democracy and markets which have invariably run into serious trouble.
This makes me think that Ropke might be just the economist we need in the Age of Amazon, Google, and the SJW nomenklatura.

With sympathies for both (European) political integration and a high degree of federalism. It makes him an original critic of monopolies: they are bad not only because they harm consumers, but also because they represent an unhealthy degree of concentration in the economy, with harmful social and cultural effects. He favored the small firm, exemplified by the independent farmer and artisan. It was an economic structure which he found in Switzerland, where he lived the latter half of his life, from 1937 to his passing in 1966.
Perhaps in theory, as in practice, Switzerland is better than Chicago.

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