The History of Economic Thought
Online ISSN : 1884-7358
Print ISSN : 1880-3164
ISSN-L : 1880-3164
Reconsidering Reason of State and Economic Nationalism:
The Meaning of ʻRealismʼ in I. Hontʼs Jealousy of Trade
Seiichiro Ito
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2012 Volume 53 Issue 2 Pages 76-99


In Jealousy of Trade (2005), I. Hontʼs “realism” involves both a warning against understanding The Wealth of Nations as a product of the two idealisms of “civic-humanism” and natural juris-prudence, and an attempt to apply “Machiavel-lism,” or the perspective of reason of state, to the history of the world trade economy. However, when one puts Hontʼs argument in the context of Machiavellian political discussion, such as that of F. Meinecke, R. Tuck, and W. F. Church, it becomes clear that all of these scholarsʼ realistic understanding of the European history of ideas entails the description of the idealʼs history, in terms of progress towards it, rather than its re-nunciation. Specifically, Meinecke finds his ide-al in reason of enlightenment, Tuck in peace, Church in morality, and Hont in “cosmopolitical economy.” Nevertheless, each views the ideal in terms of its tension with historical reality. In contrast, H. Takemoto and T. Nakano, unencum-bered by such European idealism, seek a realis-tic political economy if in different ways while disregarding the ideal. For these two thinkers, reality is not a temporal hindrance that will eventually be overcome, but rather what contin-uously and permanently is. Hence, T. Nakano argues that an ongoing governmental industrial policy is a necessary measure to protect the nation and society, and H. Takemoto finds in The Wealth of Nations something like a political economy of order and safety. JEL classification numbers: B 11, B 49, Y 30.

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