chapter  3
16 Pages

THE GERMINATION OF SOCIAL ECONOMICS ON BRITISH SOIL

Tracking the humanistic spirit of Sismondi in Great Britain might appear daunting in light of Thomas Sowell’s opinion. Sowell-one of the most knowledgeable contemporary defenders of Sismondi’s challenge to Say’s Law-claimed that “he [Sismondi] left no disciples and his eclecticism provided no dogma around which a school could crystallize.”1 Certainly such a bleak assessment is not without truth, but it overlooks too much. Charles Rist’s classic assessment of Sismondi is probably closer to the mark when he points out that his sympathy for the working classes, his critique of an industrial regime driven by competition, his refusal to recognize personal interest as the only economic motive and his plea for corrective state intervention was to give rise to several powerful currents of thought.2 That Sismondi had considerable influence both in France and Germany, even in Russian intellectual history, nobody will dispute.