Mill's Radical End of Laissez-Faire: A Review Essay of the Political Economy of Progress: John Stuart Mill and Modern Radicalism

22 Pages Posted: 9 May 2017 Last revised: 6 Jun 2018

See all articles by Nick Cowen

Nick Cowen

School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln; New York University School of Law

Date Written: May 5, 2017

Abstract

Can John Stuart Mill’s radicalism achieve liberal egalitarian ends? Joseph Persky’s The Political Economy of Progress is a provocative and compelling discussion of Mill’s economic thought. It is also a defense of radical political economy. Providing valuable historical context, Persky traces Mill’s intellectual journey as an outspoken proponent of laissez-faire to a cautious supporter of co-operative socialism. I propose two problems with Persky’s optimistic take on radical social reform. First, demands for substantive equality have led past radicals to endorse exclusionary nationalist and eugenics policies. It pushes some contemporary radicals towards illiberal interventions into intimate social life. Second, the radical critique of capitalism relies on an account of profit that neglects the epistemic function of private-property markets. Once this is acknowledged, capitalism retains some progressive credentials against radical alternatives.

Keywords: The political economy of progress: John Stuart Mill and modern radicalism, Mill, Marx, Radical political economy, Co-operatives, Laissez-faire, Utilitarianism, Bentham, Rawls, Meade

JEL Classification: B13, B53, P16, P36, Y30

Suggested Citation

Cowen, Nick, Mill's Radical End of Laissez-Faire: A Review Essay of the Political Economy of Progress: John Stuart Mill and Modern Radicalism (May 5, 2017). Review of Austrian Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2964352

Nick Cowen (Contact Author)

School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln ( email )

Lincoln LN2
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://ulincoln.academia.edu/NickCowen

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.nyu.edu/

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
36
Abstract Views
667
PlumX Metrics