Battle of Economic Ideas

11 Nov

I recently had the opportunity to write a three-part series on the history of economic thought for the IFMR Blog. It turned out to be an immensely enriching experience. I titled the series “Battle of Economic Ideas” as my voyage took me through the work of great thinkers who had different visions of how society should be organized. Below are the links to the three parts,

Part I – 1650s to 1880s


Source: Battle of Economic Ideas, IFMR Blog

The underlying theme of the first post is the emergence of a rational and modern society during the Age of Enlightenment (1650s-1780s). Thinkers like Rene Descartes and John Locke questioned feudal doctrines of the past, paving the way for the rise of scientific thinking and political freedom. The subsequent era of the Classical Liberals (1750s to 1880s) witnessed the birth of modern economics through the works of Adam Smith. Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ hypothesis provided the justification for non-interference by the government in the workings of the market. This ‘free-market’, ‘laissez faire’ approach to economics coupled with political self-determination and the emphasis on ‘individual’ over ‘society’ was the hallmark of the Classical Liberal era.

Part II – 1850s to 1970s

Economic Thinking

Source: Battle of Economic Ideas, IFMR Blog

In the second post, we provided an overview of the Marxian and Keynesian backlash (1850s to 1970s) that challenged the ideas of Classical Liberals. This era witnessed the emergence of two great political-economic (and philosophical) thinkers – Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. Their writings provided a damning critique of classical liberalism and challenged long-established doctrines.

Part III – 1970s onwards

The third post provides an overview of the neo-liberal era (when a diluted version of Classical Liberalism was reincarnated), and comments on the current crossroads in economic ideas.

Hope you enjoy reading the posts!

I also delivered a talk on the above at the IFMR Spark Spring Edition – 2015. The link to video is below,


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