042 – Origins of Political Economy, Part 1


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: Join us for the first episode in a two-part introduction to social thought as we re-trace our steps through history and see how past civilizations created legitimacy in their political and economic orders. Specifically, we’ll learn how geography, the natural world, and an understanding of the divine order shaped beliefs about human affairs. From Egypt, to Mesopotamia, to China, to Greece, tune in to learn about the ancient and classical origins of our most treasured forms of political and economic expression.

Comments (3)

  1. David

    In point of fact, your “western” perspective is actually more American. In spite of the fact that our two countries are similar in culture and history, we Canadians do not subscribe so completely to the values you mentioned. Our equivalent to your “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is “peace, fairness, and good government” – collectivist, not individualistic, values.

    The consequences of this shift in perspective are profound. Our society is more collectivist, and, dare I say, much more compassionate than yours.

    1. Will Webb (Post author)

      Good points, David. The attitudes and priorities are different across the border. I actually knew about that Canadian slogan, especially as a sort of foil to the American cliche. However, by saying “life, liberty, and property,” in addition to the Jeffersonian language of “the pursuit of happiness,” I was actually trying to allude to John Locke as the philosophical underpinnings of the English-speaking world’s political thought. They are his words. Seeing as he shaped a lot of political thought for both of our countries, I let it stand. I know Canada enjoys a well-deserved reputation for peace-keeping, multiculturalism, tolerance, and equality…but surely that part of the national identity is a later development on top of a common foundation that we share in Anglo-Hobbesian/Lockean liberalism.

      How about I read your comment on the show?

      1. David

        Certainly, if you wish to, go ahead and read the comment. Sometimes it seems from here that the more exposure Americans can get to alternate points of view, the better. I would be glad if you substituted the word “cooperative” for “collectivist” in the last sentence.

        A case in point – we Canadian simply marvel in dismay at your country’s determined resistance to universal medical care.

        I take your point about John Locke, although he and Hobbes are not among my favourite people. Did you know that Locke persuaded his friend Newton to try a monetary reform based on his idea that money had a concrete value, and wasn’t just a social convention, as has been amply proven over and over again, most recently in 2008? The result was disaster.

        So his ideas may be underpinnings, but that doesn’t make them right. His ideas about money continue to mislead us, and allow very unattractive people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.


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