Monday, August 30, 2004

The Dismal Science?

I hadn't known the real origin of this amusing phrase, which excellently encapsulates the gloomy and quietist ideas of Malthus and other nineteenth-century economists until I was researching the post below and came across an essay by Dr Robert Dixon at the University of Melbourne.

Carlyle first employed it a pamphlet called (and here I must beg my readers' pardon) Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question, exorcating those economists who, in the context of Jamaican planters complaining of labour shortages following slave emancipation, were "declaring that Negro and White are unrelated, loose from one another, on a footing of perfect equality, and subject to no law but that of supply and demand according to the Dismal Science".

It makes me proud to be an economist, sophist and calculator.