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What was an organic economy?

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It is a striking fact that the classical economists, Adam Smith, Malthus, and Ricardo all believed that prolonged economic growth was impossible—ironic since Adam Smith is sometimes pictured as suggesting the path to the industrial revolution. But they had good grounds for pessimism given the nature of the economies with which they were familiar. It is convenient to label all economies before the industrial revolution as ‘organic’. I shall try to explain the nature of these economies and the kind of change necessary to escape from the restrictions under which they laboured.

This talk is part of the Economic and Social History Seminars series.

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