ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Woes of Categorising

Economists as Optimists or Pessimists

Some classical economists who believe in a harmonious order of the society and envisioned a growth-based capitalism have been labelled as optimists.
Others theorised a conflict-ridden society in capitalism and have been termed as pessimists. This article discusses the validity of these labels.

Classical political economists of the 18th and 19th centuries have had different views of the society. Some economists have put forward the thesis of a harmonious society, promoting the policies of laissez-faire. The core belief behind this understanding is that if everybody pursues their self-interest, then the society would operate in a harmonious fashion (Kirzner 1989). Some others have focused on the conflicts between classes in the capitalist society, lending economics the name of a “dismal science” (Skousen 2007). While the former have been labelled as optimists, the latter have been commonly called pessimists (Schumpeter 1954; Hicks 1966; Popescu 2007). The optimists are enthusiastic about the growth prospects of capitalism, while the pessimists are critical about the same (Alvey 2003; Schumpeter 1954).

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Updated On : 5th Jun, 2022
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