Society and State

  • David Reisman
Part of the Great Thinkers in Economics book series (GTE)


Proportion is essential in political economy. There has to be a good balance between spending and saving if the perils of overheating on the one hand, stagnation on the other are to be avoided. There must also be an appropriate balance in the ownership of landed property. Some redistribution is needed but it must occur gradually, so as not to destabilise the social and political order. The laws of primogeniture and entailing, illiberal as they are, must be preserved. Social conventions should also conform to the rule of balance. Consumption should not be so great as to starve investment of loanable funds but it should not be so niggardly as to drive satiated agents into indolence and unchanging replication. There had in addition to be balance in the role of the State. If total demand is deficient, the State should contribute unproductive consumption through counter-cyclical public works financed even in a recession by higher taxes and a national debt which in itself is favourable to full employment.


Circular flow Property rights Free economic market Taxation National Debt 


By T. R. Malthus

  1. (1798 [1970]). Essay on the Principle of Population, as It Affects the Future Improvement of Society, with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and Other Writers (abbreviated as FE), ed. by A. Flew. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  2. (1803 et seq. [1989]). An Essay on the Principle of Population: Or a View of Its Past and Present Effects on Human Happiness, with an Inquiry into Our Prospects Respecting the Removal of the Evils Which It Occasions (2nd edition, 1803; further editions in 1806, 1807, 1817, 1826) (abbreviated as SE I and SE II), 2 vols., ed. by P. James. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. (1820 [1989]). The Principles of Political Economy (abbreviated as PR), ed. by J. Pullen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. (1827). Evidence to the Select Committee on Emigration (Third Report), in Parliamentary Papers. London: House of Commons, 5, 311–327.Google Scholar
  5. (1836 [1989]). The Principles of Political Economy: The Alterations to the First Edition (abbreviated as PR II), ed. by J. Pullen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Barro, R. J. (1974). Are Government Bonds Net Worth? Journal of Political Economy, 82, 1095–1117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burke, E. (1790 [1968]). Reflections on the Revolution in France (C. C. O’Brien, Ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  3. Galbraith, J. K. (1958 [1973]). The Affluent Society. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  4. Hume, D. (1752a [1955]). Of Commerce. In E. Rotwein (Ed.), David Hume: Writings on Economics (pp. 3–18). London: Nelson.Google Scholar
  5. Hume, D. (1752b [1955]). Of Refinement in the Arts. In E. Rotwein (Ed.), David Hume: Writings on Economics (pp. 19–32). London: Nelson.Google Scholar
  6. Keynes, J. M. (1930 [1972]). Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren. In D. Moggridge (Ed.), The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes (IX, pp. 321–332). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1848 [2011]). The Communist Manifesto. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  8. Ricardo, D. (1820 [1951–1955]. Notes on Malthus’s Principles of Political Economy, in Ricardo, infra, II.Google Scholar
  9. Ricardo, D. (1821 [1951–1955]. Principles of Political Economy, in Ricardo, infra, I.Google Scholar
  10. Ricardo, D. (1951–1955). The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo (abbreviated as Ricardo) (P. Sraffa & M. Dobb, Ed., 11 vols.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Smith, A. (1759 [1966]). The Theory of Moral Sentiments. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.Google Scholar
  12. Smith, A. (1776 [1961]). The Wealth of Nations (E. Cannan, Ed., 2 vols.). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  13. Smith, A. (1795 [1967]). The History of Astronomy. In J. R. Lindgren (Ed.), The Early Writings of Adam Smith. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.Google Scholar
  14. Wallace, R. (1753). A Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind in Ancient and Modern Times. Edinburgh: G. Hamilton and J. Balfour.Google Scholar
  15. Wallace, R. (1761). Various Prospects of Mankind, Nature, and Providence. London: William Hone.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Reisman
    • 1
  1. 1.Nanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations