ABSTRACT

We have seen how the combination of both the utility theory and labor theory perspectives, in the writings of Smith and Ricardo, seemed to lead to conclusions suggesting that capitalism was characterized both by social harmony and by class conflict. Say and Senior “sanitized” classical political economy by rejecting the labor theory perspective and arguing that a knowledge of the true principles of political economy would show that the interests of all classes were in harmony. They explained all existing conflicts as resulting from ignorance and misunderstanding. The doctrines of Say and Senior (and Malthus as well) attempted to show how the ultimate or hidden interests of the poor, when understood in the light of “scientific” political economy, were identical to the immediate and obvious interests of the propertied, wealthy, and powerful.