Feudalism

Feudalism was the economic and political system of Europe during the Middle Ages. One might be tempted to dismiss it as a primitive system, discarded when something better came along, but to do so would be to misunderstand human institutions…

The End of Feudalism

Custom played such a large role in governing feudal institutions that they were resistant to change. Feudalism could only be shaken by substantial changes to the external environment, and those changes finally came…

Economic Ideology and the Glorious Revolution

The Glorious Revolution changed the way that the English thought about their economy. The proponents of an economic ideology that justified the power of the landowners became less influential. The proponents of an ideology that emphasized the value of labour, and the role of manufacturing and trade in realizing this value, became more influential…

The Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution was influenced by both the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment…

Why Nations Fail: 
Extractive and Inclusive Institutions

Acemoglu and Robinson’s goal is to explain why some nations are rich and others are poor. They present a theory based on the interaction between political and economic institutions. Casual empiricism suggests that its explanatory power is quite strong…

Why Nations Fail:
 Theory is Tidy, History is Messy

Acemoglu and Robinson argue that sustained growth is almost always attained in a particular way: inclusive political institutions develop first, followed by inclusive economic institutions, followed by growth. They recognize the boldness of their claim…

Property and Property Rights: A History

What do property and property rights mean today? What are their philosophical and economic foundations?

Socialism in the Nineteenth Century

Socialist ideas began to appear in the early 1800s, and socialist and communist political parties were active before 1870. The most successful Marxist party, Germany’s SPD, was the largest party in the Reichstag by 1914…

The Russian Odyssey: 1900-1924

In the first decades of the twentieth century, Russia went from autocracy, to revolution and civil war, to communist rule. Economically, it went from an impoverished market economy, to War Communism and the New Economic Policy, to the beginnings of the command economy…