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Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill's The Great Famine

analytical Essay
1777 words
1777 words
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The analysis of the Irish economic problem, the Great Famine, was a remarkable topic to study by several classical authors such as, Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill, David Ricardo or William Senior. A contextualization skim of the economic characteristics of the country is required in order to know about their main ideas with respect to the topic, taking into account the aspects like the land property, the political power and the relation between Ireland and England.
The tense relationship between Ireland and England lasted for many years. There were constant attempts from the English government to exercise control over its neighbors, which were, at the same time, answered with several insurrections.
In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that the analysis of the irish economic problem, the great famine, was a remarkable topic to study by several classical authors such as, thomas malthus, john stuart mill, david ricardo or william senior.
  • Explains that the tense relationship between ireland and england lasted for many years. there were constant attempts from the english government to exercise control over its neighbors, which were answered with several insurrections.
  • Explains that the united kingdom of great britain and ireland was created through the act of union in 1801, and the pretended manufacturing sector was not able to emerge, as english textile surpluses absorbed all the irish market demand.
  • Explains that the irish famine had an immense effect on the demography of the country that lasted for decades.
  • Explains that the irish population was british subject, so the response to the humanitarian crisis had to be given by the westminster parliament.
  • Analyzes how adam smith's inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations had a deep impact on the academic and political english world.
  • Analyzes the irish famine through the population-capital concept, mainly from malthus' population theory point of view.
  • Argues that the only way of changing this cycle was by adjusting the ratio population to capital, either reducing the first one or increasing the second.
  • Analyzes the malthus trap reasoning, which emphasizes a rigid dependence of population growth upon the food supply.
  • Explains that the cyclical reduction of population through famines is a necessary condition for the efficiency of an economy.
  • Analyzes how the english academics blamed the irish population for this situation. the high natality rate is a typical trait of the agriculture economies, while the potato crop was the only feasible production.
  • Analyzes the arguments against any kind of charity policy, not only during the great famine but also prior to it.
  • Opines that the argument did not change when the great famine became a severe issue. it would be an shock for the standards of our society today to understand such behavior.
  • Explains that john stuart mill's principle of political economy (1848) was the undisputed bible of the 19th century for the economic world.
  • Analyzes how richard lebow analyzed mill's arguments stating that it can be identified two contrary visions; one arguing for the market on its own and the other for a state’s intervention.
  • Explains that irish people working on land had no right over them, the land was divided into bits, and the competition for a plot was hard. the improvement of ireland's economic conditions depended on the changes of the cottier system.
  • Analyzes how the recommendation regarding the cottier-tenant system and how to solve the problems caused by it, are surprisingly heterogenic, even contradictory. he did not have a consistent opinion about the best policies to be applied in order to improve the land ownership system.
  • Analyzes how the "two mills" opposed removing the peasant system and made strong allegations about the unacceptability of the land expropriation to the irish aristocracy.
  • Explains that the government would correct the irish situation without any need of capital. the relation capital-population was the key idea of the classical economists.

As a result, the community growth intensifies to a point where the income per capita will be so low that its maintenance would turn into untenable; hence the population suffers and contracts, occasioning a new cycle again. Therefore, the theory emphasizes a rigid dependence of population growth upon the food supply.
Following this reasoning, it could be inferred that the cyclical reduction of population through famines is a necessary condition for the efficiency of an economy. Therefore, by clearing the surplus population from the land, the market rebalances itself. So at that point, it can be suggested that a definition for overpopulation is the moment when a community is too large to maximize the efficient production of its economy; so it would need a reduction in numbers that would raise income per …show more content…

Who wrote Principle of Political Economy (1848), it was nicknamed by Mark Blaug as the undisputed bible of the 19th century for the economic world.
Richard Lebow’s analyzed Mill’s arguments sustaining that it can be identified two contrary visions; one arguing for the market on its own and the other for the necessity of a state’s intervention. This classification of two clearly opposed views is also raised by Gide and Rist in the following statement “During the first half of his life, Mill was an individualist who was deeply committed to utilitarianism. During the second half, he was a socialist who remained a champion of individual liberty” (1947, page

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