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Capitalism and the Historians

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415607216
ISBN-10: 0415607213
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A book that will disturb the sleep of a good many scholars" - Max Eastman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and a leading proponent of classical liberalism  in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg.

 

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (November 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415607213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415607216
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,806,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am intrigued by this collection of essays in "Capitalism and the Historians" published in 1954. Professor F. A. Hayek of the University of Chicago USA is the editor with contributions from Louis Hacker, W. H. Hutt and Bertrand de Jouvenel. The topic of discussion is specifically, the "legend of the deterioration of th eposition of the working classes in consequence to the rise of 'capitalism'", and generally, "the widespread aversion to 'capitalism'". On a larger scale, these essays examine what is "history", as apart from "political legend". Professor Ashton attacks a general pessismism and lack of economic sense in the commonly accepted views of the economic developments of the nineteenth century. He opposes the views of Sombart and Schumpeter which write history "as though it its function were simply to exhibit the gradualness of inevitability." Rather, Ashton maintains "that it is from the spontaneous actions and choices of ordinary people that progress springs." Louis M Hacker addresses the same themes as Ashton and discusses the present attitude of American historians toward capitalism. Hacker summarises, "When, therefore, historians learn to treat their materials more sensitively and make corrections on the counts indicated, the popularly accepted notions about profits as exploitation will undergo drastic revision." Bertrand de Jouvenel examines the treatment of capitalism by continental intellectuals. He explains that the modern intelligentsia occupies a similar position as the clerics of Medieval Times although their authority is undermined because they lack the responsibility of the clerics who were themselves part of the community.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek wrote in the Preface to this 1954 collection, "The first three papers in this volume were originally presented to a gathering of an international group of economists, historians, and social philosophers who for some years have been meeting regularly to discuss the problems of the preservation of a free society against the totalitarian threat... It was ... suggested that this might be usefully combined with reprinting some earlier papers by members of the Society dealing with closely connected topics... I have tried, in an Introduction ... to explain the wider significance of the problem discussed in the earlier pages." (NOTE: Page numbers below refer to the 1967 184-page edition by the University of Chicago.)

Hayek observes, "The proletariat which capitalism can be said to have 'created' was thus not a proportion of the population which would have existed without it and which it had degraded to a lower level; it was an additional population which was enabled to grow up by the new opportunities for employment which capitalism provided." (Pg. 16) Concerning the conditions of industrial workers, he suggests that "While there is every evidence that great misery existed, there is none that it was greater than or even as great as it had been before." (Pg. 18)

One author points out that the "common charge of inhumanity" against the 19th century "would be an idle slander if it were not so gross." He notes that the 19th century introduced on a broad scale public health and public education, and made possible the "amazing climb of real wages in industrialized countries." (Pg. 64-65) He adds that the anticapitalism of the New Dealers is "political and moral; for certainly no serious case has been made out against capitalism as such." (Pg.
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Format: Paperback
Hayek's collection of essays is an interesting look at capitalism from the late 1800's onward. I enjoyed the writer's views of liberal "intellectuals" and their negative views and historical perspective of Europe and early America. A few of the writers talked about Marx and Engels and their remarkable views and propaganda of capitalists. In all, a short book and some high quality writers contributing to the history of capitalism.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The industrial revolution in England is always pictured in Dickensian terms, the "dark satanic mills" and so forth. We are told that while capitalism eventually can be led, by government direction, to yield a better standard of living, it takes a long time.

This always seemed dubious to me - I suspected that people worked in the mills because it was a better option than staying put and starving. Much like China and other developing nations today, the new jobs should have allowed a step up. This series of essays, based on sources from the time, shows that to be the case. The essays reveal information showing that for most workers, the new jobs improved their standard of living. Leftist historians and writers, starting with Engels and Marx, seized on the misery of those at the bottom to criticize captialism and forecast its downfall. This book is a valuable counterbalance to the conventional wisdom about the period.
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Format: Paperback
Perfectly as described. Would purchase from again. Thank you.
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