This collection explores eighteenth-century theories of international market competition that continue to be relevant for the twenty-first century. “Jealousy of trade” refers to a particular conjunction between politics and the economy that emerged when success in international trade became a matter of the military and political survival of nations. Today, it would be called “economic nationalism,” and in this book connects the commercial politics of nationalism and globalization in the eighteenth century to theories of commercial society and Enlightenment ideas of the economic limits of politics.The book begins with an analysis of how the notion of “commerce” was added to Hobbes’s “state of nature” by Samuel Pufendorf. Hont then considers British neo-Machiavellian political economy after the Glorious Revolution. From there he moves to a novel interpretation of the political economy of the Scottish Enlightenment, particularly of David Hume and Adam Smith, concluding with a conceptual history of nation-state and nationalism in the French Revolution.Jealousy of Trade combines political theory with intellectual history, illuminating the past but also considering the challenges of today.
These are very remarkable essays and it is invaluable to have them published in collected form. Dr. Hont has for many years been working on the interaction of political economy and political theory in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and his knowledge of this field is unrivalled. He is able to study it in Central European, French, and British settings and perspectives, and his familiarity with recent (often Cambridge-inspired) developments in the methodology of intellectual history equips him especially well to present it to English speaking scholars. He is authentically a master in this field, and it is an exciting prospect to have his works in a single volume.
Istvan Hont, a prominent member of the influential "Cambridge School" of the history of ideas, is one of the most able and respected historians of early modern political thought and political economy writing today. This collection brings together Hont's most important work of the past 22 years, work that has helped to re-shape our understanding of Enlightenment thought, particularly the attempt by a wide range of philosophers and social theorists to comprehend the dynamics and evaluate the moral standing of emerging market societies in the West.
Istvan Hont's book treats the most decisive transformation in the modern understanding of politics with unique intellectual boldness and unmatched depth of scholarship. He shows far more clearly than any previous interpreter just how and why the nature and consequences of international trade have come to set the agenda for coherent political action for every modern population. This is the intellectual backdrop to the chaotic and hazardous politics of today and tomorrow. Mastering it is a prerequisite for any possibility of a more orderly and dependably benign political future.
[A] major new study...Jealousy of Trade is a collection of pioneering essays in the history of political and economic thought, focused on a period extending from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries...Hont presents his argument with an absorbing combination of scholarly erudition and analytical force. But his project remains a deliberately historical one. Its aim is to rewrite the history of modern liberalism, beginning with its foundations...Hont departs from the revisionist projects of Pocock and Skinner. In opposition to them, he seeks neither to recover nor to renovate traditions of political thought occluded by the subsequent triumph of liberalism. His purpose, instead, is to restore to the long history of liberalism its properly sceptical foundations. He begins by debunking the liberal legend of the benign progress of modern liberty. At the same time, Hont refuses to endorse the counter-mythologies of Marxism and socialism. In striving to maintain this disabused perspective, Jealousy of Trade provides an account of the development of modern political argument freed from the ideological distortions bred by party-polemical zeal. Its ambition here is conspicuous, but so too is its intellectual energy and imagination. It is a landmark contribution to its field.
Hont's painstaking work on Enlightenment political and economic discourse is historically invaluable, because it reveals the epoch-making impact of emergent global commercial empires, and forces us to recognize that the histories of individual European nation-states are really the products of a transnational (and ultimately global) process at once political and economic.
What this book in any case shows is that eighteenth-century political and economic thought still holds a [many] secrets and unexplored territory that, if dealt with carefully, can enrich present-day reflection on the challenges of global markets and international peace. Not in the least, the message of Jealousy of Trade implies a forceful argument addressed to economic theorists not to disregard the international political conditions under which eighteenth-century thinkers developed political economy, as well as those under which their nineteenth-century equivalents turned it into a science.
- 2006, Winner of the J. David Greenstone Book Prize
- 2007, Winner of the Joseph J. Spengler Best Book Prize
- 2007, Winner of the J. David Greenstone Book Prize
- 560 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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