Malthus Across Nations. The Reception of Thomas Robert Malthus in Europe, America and Japan
The writings of Thomas Robert Malthus continue to resonate today, particularly An Essay on the Principle of Population which was published more than two centuries ago. Malthus Across Nations creates a fascinating picture of the circulation of his economic and demographic ideas across different countries, highlighting the reception of his works in a variety of nations and cultures. This unique book offers not only a fascinating piece of comparative analysis in the history of economic thought but also places some of today’s most pressing debates into an accurate historical perspective, thereby improving our understanding of them.
Providing a complex and multi-faceted analysis of the reception and dissemination of the works of Malthus, this book examines how his approach was misunderstood and distorted throughout his lifetime and beyond. It illuminates the different ways in which groups of actors, including laymen, politicians and experts, have reacted to his work in specific historical and intellectual contexts, and with particular theoretical, political and moral concerns. Detailed breakdowns of the main controversies over his work are also explored.
An insightful read for scholars studying economics and history of economic thought, this book guides readers from Malthus’s original publications to their continuing impact today. This will also be a useful volume for ethics, political thought and intellectual history students.
This chapter provides some details of Malthus’s personal encounter with Russia and distinguishes three periods in the reception of his works in the Russian Empire. During the first period (1800s–1830s), there was generally adopted an optimistic version of Malthusianism suitable for substantiation of the benevolent nature of the ‘enlightened despotism’ – ‘Malthusianism in reverse’. During the 1840s–1850s, the significant social and cultural shifts resulted in the radicalization and diversification of Russian public opinion, which ceased to be confined to the tiny circle of the highest nobility and imperial bureaucracy. It was the period of actualization of Malthus, but the general attitude to his ideas became critical, if not hostile. The way, how and why that Malthus was criticized (and sometimes accepted) since the 1860s and up to the 1917 Revolution allows for a better grasp of the debates between different strands of the then prominent ideological approaches: radical, conservative and liberal.