Classical Theories of Political Economy
Ideally students intending to major in Political Economy should complete PE 100 by the middle of their sophomore year.
Students must apply critical thinking skills to engage classical theories of political economy as they were originally written in primary sources. These primary sources may be bolstered, should the instructor choose, with some additional reading material explicating salient points of each text. The course should generally be chronological. Students should engage the writers and their ideas, and confront the ideas of one theorist with those of another, so that they can see hoq ideas grow out of other ideas in their particular historical contexts.
Students should learn the basic historical thinking skills, among them analysis; argumentation; chronological reasoning; interpretation; contextualization; comparison; and synthesis. Students should also be given practice at other critical thinking skills, such as Inquiry, as the instructor sees fit.
The principal aim of the course is to engage the students with the central question of political economy: the evolving relationship between the state and the economy as analyzed in the “classical” texts which discuss (1) connections between people and their rulers; (2) the nature and purpose of the state; and (3) linkages between states and their economies. The inevitable focus of the course is the rise of liberalism and the various responses to it
Subjects that ought to be covered in each iteration of PE 100 include but are not limited to: mercantilism, capitalism, industrialization, liberalism, Marxism, socialism, imperialism, nationalism, and internationalization. Students should be constantly considering the applicability of the "classical" theories to the present day. Instructors follow their own judgment in assigning relative weight to these subjects and the degree of engagement of the course with current headlines.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; John Locke, Two Treatises on Government; Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality and/or On Social Contract; Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Women; Thomas Malthus, Essay on Population; David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy; Friedrich List, National System of Political Economy; Karl Marx, Das Kapital; Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation; Max Weber, “On Bureaucracy” and/or The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism; V.I. Lenin, “Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism”; Joseph Schumpeter, Imperialism. In addition, students should be familiar with the work of J.M. Keynes
Course Boundaries vis-a-vis PE 101:
This course covers the early modern world (but may go back to antiquity or the middle ages) and the modern world ending with the Great Depression, which is where PE 101 will begin. At most a week should be spent on Keynesian political economy in this course, allowing students to see the ways in which he synthesized the classical theorists and set the stage for new kinds of theory to be discussed in PEIS 101.
Assessments and Assignments:
The material lends itself to in-class exams, take-home exams, and research papers. Each instructor cam generate those kind of assignments that work best with that instructor’s teaching. At least three written assignments/exams should be required over the course of the semester, in order to observe student improvement. Provide studente with as many opportunities as possible to reflect upon tbe course content: it will be new and strange to many
Course Instructional Support
This course has--until the next budget crisis--weekly GSI-led sections. Students find the material difficult, and having a regular weekly discussion section is usually the best way for them both to practice their critical thinking skills and internalize content.
Appendix: The Larger Barrington Moore Problematic:
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, Letter on Toleration
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, The Social Contract
David Hume, Of Commerce, Of the Balance of Trade, Of the Original Contract, Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth
Bernard de Mandeville, Fable of the Bees
Albert Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests
Adam Smith, Theory of the Moral Sentiments, Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
Thomas Paine, Common Sense
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, The Federalist
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women
William Godwin, An Enquiry Considering Political Justice
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revoution in France, Letters on a Regicide Peace
Joseph de Maistre, Essay on the Generative Principle of Political Constitutions
Thomas Malthus, Essay on Population
David Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy
Friedrich List, The National System of Political Economy
Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, Democracy in America, Recollections
Karl Marx, Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Justice, Communist Manifesto, Wage Labor and Capital, Class Struggles in France, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Capital, Critique of the Gotha Program
Thomas Carlyle, Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question
John Stuart Mill, Essay on Bentham, Essay on Coleridge, On Liberty, The Subjection of Women, Principles of Political Economy
Max Weber, Politics as a Vocation, Science as a Vocation, The Chinese Literati, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, The City, Class, Status, Party, Bureaucracy
Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class
Emile Durkheim, Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
Vladimir Lenin, Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism
Joseph Schumpeter, Imperialism
Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, Civilization and Its Discontents
John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, Essays in Persuasion
Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation
Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy