The plot for my thesis
A more detailed description may be found here
A short description:
"The Impact of the Realist-Idealist Tradition in Economic Policy.
'Prosper thy Neighbour' through Pragmatism and Empiricism"
Principal objective and sub-goals
The objective is "simply" to find the policies of success in socio-economic development. I therefore sort out the practical policies of historical success cases in order to understand the economic principles of development. I start off by looking at the philosophy and methodology of economics, then the literature of the history of economic development in general, in particular by focusing on the tradition that developed the so-called European Miracle, Mercantilism. One outstanding author and politician in this tradition, Friedrich List, is singled out for more intense scrutiny. I then look more specifically at two practical and historical instances, that of South Africa and Great Britain, and see how they fit the mercantilist strategy and with List's strategy- being one emerging and one declining industrial nation. Finally, the relevance of development literature will be discussed in the light of the above.
The first part will focus on an extraction of the general theoretical principles of the idea-oriented tradition in economic policy – in essence from times immemorial, from Hamurabi in Sumeria onwards with Ptolemy, the Chin Empire etc. This concerns the Idealist & State oriented Mercantilism, of the prosper thy neighbour type. This part will be both historical and related to the philosophy of science with special regard to economics.
The second part is a literature study of a clear representative of the above tradition. The development strategy of Friedrich List is chosen, since he is perhaps the most famous writer and propagator in the history of economic development, communication, integration and trade. I claim that he has been poorly understood.
The third part focus on the impact this tradition eventually had on the original development of South Africa, or more specifically how the principles extracted in the first part of the study eventually came to use – or not. Focus will be on public goods production understood as production of the tightly related fields of knowledge and communication. In the history of South Africa these themes stand out as related to customs protection (in addition to education and research, of course), i.e. regulated international trade on the one hand. On the other hand they are related to transportation and customs unification, i.e. free local trade. A core part of this study will be the influence of the Boer strategy in the period 1880-1914 on British economic policy during the period 1880-1914.
A short fourth part will mention the heavy debates in Great Britain being a declining industrial nation, as opposed to South Africa as an emerging industrial nation. Before WW I this concerned the future of the Empire, and therefore in particular the economic policy with regard to tariff union, "Imperial Preference". I discuss the contemporary debate over market vs. regulation in general, in light of the efforts to win the politico-economic race, in competition with Germany in particular.
The final part will discuss the theory of economic development, i.e. policy recommendations, in light of the above mentioned historically based studies.