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The Political Failure of an Economic Theory

Quesnay and the Physiocracy
  • Yves Charbit
Chapter

Abstract

One overwhelming fact was obvious to all contemporary observers at the end of the Ancien régime: in this large and fundamentally rural kingdom of France, the economic weight of agriculture could not be ignored. “All the authors of the period, Utopists, exiled Huguenots, Economists (…) valued the cultivation of land” and, for Vauban and Boisguibert especially, “agricultural activity has a primacy that is both historical (in the development of humanity) and logical (in the causal explanation of the productive process)”, notes Perrot. 1 A third reason can be added: land’s symbolic value, since the acquisition of land was the key to gaining titles of nobility for the bourgeoisie of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is therefore appropriate to relate ideas on population to the thinking about agriculture and physiocracy – the “rule of nature” – presents a twofold originality in relation to the other intellectual currents of the period.

Keywords

Free Trade Eighteenth Century Foreign Trade Natural Order Land Rent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yves Charbit
    • 1
  1. 1.CEPED: Centre Population et Développement (Université Paris Descartes, INED, IRD)Université Paris DescartesParisFrance

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