Thomas Hodgskin (1787–1869) is today a largely unknown figure, sometimes considered to be a forerunner of Karl Marx. Yet a closer look at Hodgskin’s works reveals that he was actually a committed advocate of laissez-faire economics and enthusiastic about labor-saving machinery and the Industrial Revolution, with a genuine interest in the well-being of the working classes. This book places him in the tradition of classical liberalism, where he belongs—as a disciple of Adam Smith, but even less tolerant of government power than Smith was.

Classical Liberalism and the Industrial Working Class: The Economic Thought of Thomas Hodgskin will be of interest to advanced students and scholars in the history of economic thought, economic history and the history of political thought.

Chapter 1: A Life in the Storm 1.1 The Early Life of Thomas Hodgskin 1.2 Utilitarian (and Useful) Friendships 1.3 A Journalistic Career 1.4 An Essay on Naval Discipline Chapter 2: Thomas Hodgskin’s Peculiar Blend of “Socialism” 2.1 Hodgskin: A Ricardian Socialist? 2.2 Capital and Privilege 2.3 The Issue of Machinery 2.4 A Theorist of Human Capital? Chapter 3: Political Economy and Free Trade 3.1 A Defender of Political Economy 3.2 Labor, Knowledge and a Principle of Population 3.3 A Long-time Opposition to the Corn Laws 3.4 Hodgskin, Cobden, and the League 3.5 Hodgskin’s Free Trade Manifesto Chapter 4: Free Trade in Banking 4.1 Some Thoughts on the Business Cycle 4.2 Free Banking Chapter 5: Between Liberalism and Anarchism 5.1 Private Property, Good and Bad: Hodgskin as a Lockean 5.2 Against “Scientific” Government 5.3 Public Opinion and the Middle Classes Conclusion 6.1. Herbert Spencer and Thomas Hodgskin 6.2. The Anti-Utilitarianism of Spencer and Hodgskin 6.3. A Distinct Tradition of Classical Liberalism?