The Political Ideas of Thorstein Veblen Sidney Plotkin, Rick Tilman

Publication date:
06 Dec 2011
Yale University Press
288 pages: 235 x 156 x 19mm
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Thorstein Veblen is best known for his authorship of The Theory of the Leisure Class and The Theory of Business Enterprise, which made him a celebrated figure in the fields of economics and sociology at the turn of the twentieth century. In this book, Sidney Plotkin and Rick Tilman argue that in addition to his well-known work in these fields Veblen also made important—and until now overlooked—statements about politics.

While Veblen's writings seldom mention politics, they are saturated with political ideas: about the relationship among war, executive power, and democracy; about the similarities between modern executive positions and monarchy; about the political influence of corporate power; about the symbolism of politics; and about many other issues. By demonstrating the deep relevance of Veblen’s writings to today's political troubles, The Political Ideas of Thorstein Veblen offers an important reconsideration of a major American thinker.

Sidney Plotkin is professor of political science at Vassar College. Rick Tilman is professor emeritus of public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Each has served as president of the International Thorstein Veblen Association.

"A rich synthesis of Veblen's neglected views on power, predation, war, savagery, ostensible democracy, and the instinct of workmanship, in a terrific intellectual history for the higher barbarism of our time."—James K. Galbraith, author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too

"This is an important work by two of the most knowledgeable Veblen scholars. It is a highly original contribution to the literature of social theory, which, in addition to providing new insights into the mind and work of Thorstein Veblen, suggests fruitful avenues for original theoretical work in political economy. There is no comparable volume in the extant scholarly literature."—Russell H. Bartley, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

“Well-written, impressively researched, and richly provocative.”—John Patrick Diggins, author of Thorstein Veblen