December, 2020

Emergence and Entanglement in a Theory of Political Economy

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
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Political economy is a field of study where theorists typically treat polities and markets as separate orders of activity within society. Moreover, the standard mode of analysis treats those entities as existing in states of equilibrium. In contrast, this essay treats polities and markets as entangled and, moreover, as entities that have ecological and emergent character. Among other things, this shift in analytical focus means that turbulence of variable intensity is a key feature to be incorporated into a theory of political economy. It also means that human population systems are open and not closed, which further means that the future is generated through complex interaction inside a societal arena that entails both trade and conflict.