Economic Relationships among States: A Further Study in by Evan Luard

By Evan Luard

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Extra info for Economic Relationships among States: A Further Study in International Sociology

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There was another way in which the international economy reflected prevailing economic doctrine. The most typical doctrine of the period was that of marginal utility; once called the 'economics of the rentier class'. Economic life was now analysed, not, as in the previous age, in terms of the production process itself and the input of labour, land and capital which might be required, but in terms of the subjective preferences of those who purchased, and so influenced production decisions. The central figure of the production system was now the person with Doctrine 35 money in his hand; and just as his valuation of the final utility to himself of alternative products would determine prices, so his judgement of the benefit to himself of alternative investments, on the basis of their marginal productivity, would determine the ideal distribution of capital, both within states and between them.

Such problems of enforcing repayment were, of course, avoided in areas fully under the sovereignty of the more advanced powers: that is, in colonies. Trade and investment alike inspired a new interest in the acquisition of colonies. A new ideology justifying colonisation emerged. It was increasingly believed that the more 'advanced' countries had a new role and mission, even a duty, to bring progress and enlightenment to more backward regions, by introducing them to the joys of civilisation and Western capitalism.

With the dramatic growth in government intervention in the economy, coupled with the increasing dependence of governments on bureaucratic advice, with the increasing complexity of administration, economic events were now more and more determined by the beliefs, attitudes and decisions of individual civil servants, rather than those of businessmen or even of politicians. Once again the ideas that dominated the domestic economy were extended to international economic relationships. Here too, it was widely held, especially after 1931, activity needed to be planned.

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