October 30, 2015 Print

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One of the best ways to measure the prevalence and health of classical liberal thought within any particular society is to survey the work of its academics, scholars, and other thought leaders to see which types of ideas are widely represented and which are largely absent. Atlas Network project Econ Journal Watch has devoted a large portion of its recent Sept. 2015 issue to a “Classical Liberalism in Econ” symposium, analyzing the views presented in economics journals within a few selected countries: Venezuela, Denmark, India, and Guatemala.

The set of symposium articles in this issue of Econ Journal Watch serve as the second part of a series that began in the May issue, which featured a survey of classical liberal thought in the economics journals of Australia, Spain, Poland, Lebanon, the Czech Republic, and former Yugoslav nations.

As might be expected in a series of articles that examine economic thought across such a broad array of cultures and political climates, the pieces in the Econ Journal Watch symposium find much cause for both concern and celebration. For instance, the September piece detailing the history of classical liberal thought in Venezuela economics determines that “there is not much liberal discourse or activity in Venezuela, nor has there been much in the country’s past.” It does, however, highlight the work of Atlas Network partner Centro de Divulgación del Conocimiento Económico para la Libertad (CEDICE Freedom), which carries on a modern tradition of research and thought begun in Venezuela by earlier classical liberal thinkers like banker Henrique Pérez Dupuy and economist Nicomedes Zuloaga.

“Venezuela and most Latin American countries suffer from the absence of entrepreneurial leadership that champions economically inclusive, liberal institutions,” conclude Venezuelan economists Hugo J. Faria Leonor Filardo. “The nation needs to adopt a philosophy that will make property secure, reduce governmental intervention, and confine interventions to those that follow regular and certain rules.”

Similarly, another symposium article in the September issue of Econ Journal Watch points out that Denmark has seen a longstanding “marginalization of liberalism” during much of the past century among the nation’s prevailing scholarly opinion, but traces many notable exceptions to the rule, including Atlas Network partners Center for Political Studies (CEPOS) and Justitia.

“After a long drought, the 1980s brought a visible renaissance of liberal thinking and writing in Denmark, and the present study has surveyed and highlighted some of the more visible circles and personalities,” explains author Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, professor of political theory at the University of Copenhagen. “One lesson the history here presented may offer is that a few individuals and a few ‘centers’ may actually influence quite a lot.”

In addition to the other countries surveyed in the classical liberalism symposium section, the September issue of Econ Journal Watch devotes several pieces of analysis to education premiums in Cambodia, the Export-Import Bank, and new ride-sharing technologies like Uber and Lyft.