History of European Ideas 33 (4):390-475 (2007)

The article provides an analysis of Georg Ludwig Schmid's ‘Reflexions sur l’Agriculture’, which was published as the first essay in the first issue of the publications of the Oeconomical Society of Berne, founded in 1759. Schmid connected the agricultural improvement movement of the time to the logic of international power competition that caused the 7 Years’ War and wished to preserve political economy as agronomy for the cause of peace and virtuous economic progress. In his essay on commerce and luxury, he devised a patriotic political economy based on the notion of a marche naturelle, or a natural progress of opulence, which enabled statesmen and political economists to separate the productive from the pathological features of economic development, healthy and necessary growth from luxury. Adam Smith deployed a similar model in the Wealth of Nations but argued that Europe's retrograde development was so fundamental and comprehensive that it made it impossible to use this kind of natural progress model on its own as a meaningful guide for comprehensive economic and political reform.
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DOI 10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2007.10.002
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