The Market and Its Critics, first published in 1988, considers the reaction of socialist writers to the growth of the market economy in nineteenth century Britain, and examines in detail the diverse elements of the critique which they formulated.
Dr Thompson looks at the theoretic and thematic continuities and discontinuities over the century, structuring his study around the idea of a changing socialist response to the market economy. Much of the literature in question is comprehensive, perceptive and acute. However, the writers invariably discounted the possibility of the market playing a role in a future socialist or communist commonwealth. The solutions they posited to the problem were inapplicable to the increasingly industrial economy of the time. It was this that left their writing vulnerable to attack, and which had profound consequences both for the fate of the socialist political economy in nineteenth century Britain and its subsequent evolution in the twentieth century.
Table of Contents
Preface; Introduction; Part One: The Birth of a Market Economy 1. Physiocratic Anti Commercialism 2. The Moral Economy of the Dispossessed 3. Socialist Political Economy and the Market, 1815-50 4. Communitarian Political Economy, 1815-50 5. John Gray and John Bray: Planning in Embryo; Postscript: Socialism Without the Market; Part Two: The Triumph of a Market Company Introduction 6. James Hole: Mid-Century Owenite Socialism 7. Mid-Century Christian Socialism 8. Mid-Century Market Socialism: Aristarchus and M. Justitia 9. John Ruskin and the Moralisation of the Market; Postscript: ‘Bronterre’ O’Brien, the shape of things to come?; Part Three: The Decay of a Market Economy; Introduction; 10. William Morris: An Epoch of Rest and Simplicity 11. The Political Economy of State Socialism 12. Fabianism and the Market; Peter Kropotkin: An Anarcho-Communist Postscript; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index