1714. reading Ellen Wood

Among the excellent books,

Liberty and Property: A Social History of Western Political Thought from the Renaissance to Enlightenment

which has among others,

In eighteenth-century England, that extension of democratic rights was still a distant prospect, but the formation of an ‘economic’ sphere distinct from the political domain was well advanced; and with it would come a new conception of politics and democratic rights. The ‘economy’ became the subject of a new mode of theorizing, the ‘science’ of economics. The classical political economists were not the first in history to reflect on the processes of production, appropriation and distribution that are the primary subjects of the economic discipline; nor were the English or the Scots the first to theorize about self-propelling economic ‘circuits’. But never before the advent of capitalism had it been possible to conceive of economic processes as abstracted from ‘non-economic’ relations and practices, operating according to their own distinct laws, the purely ‘economic’ laws of the market, and without the integration imposed by a ‘legal despotism’ in the physiocratic manner. It had never before been possible to conceptualize an ‘economy’ with its own forms of coercion, to which political categories seemed not to apply. The ‘laws’ of supply and demand, the production and distribution of goods, or the formation of wages and prices could, for the purposes of economic ‘science’, be treated as impersonal mechanisms; and human beings in the economic sphere could be perceived as abstract factors of production, whose relations to each other were very different from the relations of power, domination and subordination that defined the political sphere, the sphere of rulers and subjects or citizens and states.

The enlightenment began with a concern for human development and human freedom. The great thinkers, lets take Locke and Hobbes as examples, helped narrow that down until free market replaced political thought.

It is important to realize that, with such a development in the background, it is impossible to do much with economics because the field is defined as excluding political concerns, especially power, wealth and inequalities.


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