Keynes, Weber, & antiquity

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Wed Feb 10 12:14:44 PST 1999

I'm finishing up a three week presentation of Weber's Agrarian Sociology of Ancient Civilizations and note that the concept of "aggregate demand" shows up in two contexts:

1) In arguing that slaves depress wages and therefore the aggregate demand that would allow for the development of more mature capitalist forms;

2) In arguing that the extension of internal (non-coastal) manorial farming throughout Europe following the fall of the Roman Empire set up the conditions for fairly extensive rural demand for goods provided by cities on a "local" basis.

My question:

1. Does anyone know of any work on antiquity or feudalism which tries to bring to bear "Keynesian" in the sense of demand oriented (one might say Malthusian if one preferred) analysis to these structural transformation problems.

2. The Agrarian Sociology was published in the 1896-1897 period. Secondary literature on Hobson (and hence underconsumptionism) shows widespread theses in business and political press on aggregate demand at this time, going back at least as early as the late 1860s, though I think the term had not been developed. I'm wondering to what extent these ideas were accessible in the German economic tradition.

3. What do y'all think of the fact that Marx begins his "transformation of the countryside" with a *postulated* demand for wool coming from Europe. In other words, isn't the "demand problem" kihnd of lurking in the background of the Marxist transition from feudalism-to-capitalism argument?

Comments from anyone appreciated but I'm *expecting* to hear something from Mike Perelman! -gn

-- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

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