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Nineteenth century British economics writer, critic of "capitalism"

Thomas Hodgskin (12 December 1787 – 21 August 1869) was an English socialist writer on political economy, critic of capitalism and defender of free trade and early trade unions. (In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the term "socialist" included any opponent of capitalism, which was construed as a political system built on privileges for the owners of capital.)


Hodgskin, Thomas (1787-1869), by George H. Smith, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay
Thomas Hodgskin was one of the most original libertarian theorists in Victorian England ... Hodgskin's Popular Political Economy (1827), in addition to its defense of free-market currency, banking, and other libertarian institutions, anticipates some later insights by F. A. Hayek and other Austrian economists, such as the role of prices in transmitting crucial market information in a spontaneous economic order. His greatest contribution to libertarian theory was The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832), a vigorous defense of natural rights ...
Related Topic: Socialism


12 Dec 1787, in Chatham, Kent, England


21 Aug 1869, in Feltham, England


Herbert Spencer: Liberty and Unlimited Human Progress, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Apr 1995
Biographical profile, highlighting Social Statics and his acquaintance with Andrew Carnegie
In November 1848, [Spencer] was offered an editorial position at the Economist, the free trade journal, where he worked for five years. One of the editors was Thomas Hodgskin, a philosophical anarchist who might have influenced him.
The Natural Right of Property, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 17 Aug 2007
Examines Thomas Hodgskin's philosophy, in particular his writings on property rights in The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832)
Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869), the English economics writer ..., is an enigma—until his philosophy is seen in its entirety ... Hodgskin ... was a natural-law individualist who thought government should grant no privileges to anyone, particularly capitalists, landowners, and clergy, who in his time were the chief beneficiaries of state appropriation ... [He] was [an] adherent of the philosophy of John Locke and the laissez-faire, free-trade Manchester school of Cobden and Bright ... Hodgskin was sounding like Adam Smith, Julian Simon, Peter Bauer, and Jane Jacobs rolled into one ...
Real Liberalism and the Law of Nature, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 10 Aug 2007
Examines Thomas Hodgskin's introductory letter to Henry Brougham, a Member of Parliament (later Lord Chancellor), written in 1829, published in The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832)
Thomas Hodgskin ... deserves to be better known than he is. [He] was an early editor of The Economist and an important influence on Herbert Spencer ... He was indeed a critic of "capitalism," by which he and others back then meant government intervention on behalf of capital to the prejudice of labor. But he was no advocate of state control of the means of production ... [H]e was influenced by the radical market economist J. B. Say and believed violations of laissez faire, such as tariffs, are what exploited workers by depriving them of their full, market-derived product.
The Singular Henry George: Insights and Influence, by David S. D'Amato, 22 Oct 2014
Discusses George's early life, the main arguments made in his writings and the influence and disagreements he had with contemporary and later radicals
[Henry] George's thought is part of a tradition we might think of as the free market left, or perhaps left-wing individualism, a tradition that includes early British socialists such as Thomas Hodgskin. Like George and [Benjamin] Tucker, Hodgskin did not inculpate free markets for existing economic problems, injustices, or inequalities; indeed, his socialism and defenses of labor were based on the argument that the relationships and structures of existing capitalism were nothing like the laissez faire markets described by the political economists.
The State Is No Friend of the Worker, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 24 Oct 2014
Discusses how the state interferes with setting wage rates and quotes Thomas Hodgskin on how to reward workers properly
One thinker who understood how the worth of labor is determined ... was the radical libertarian English writer Thomas Hodgskin (1787–1869) ... Hodgskin is usually labeled a Ricardian socialist, but Hodgskin criticized David Ricardo while lauding Adam Smith ... As a libertarian champion of labor against state-privileged capital, Hodgskin had much to say about how just wages should be determined. In his 1825 book, Labor Defended Against the Claims of Capital, he first noted that many goods are the product of joint efforts, which would seem to make it difficult to reward individual workers properly.
Variations on a Corporatist Theme, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 13 Apr 2012
Contrasts the rhetoric on both sides of the 2012 U.S. presidential contest, finding it fundamentally alike
Things are not so different from the days of Thomas Hodgskin, the great ... author ... who wrote, among other works, The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832) ... Hodgskin wrote:
And this law, founded on oppression, upheld by force and fraud, intended solely to preserve ill-gotten power, or ill-gotten wealth, to maintain the dominion of an aristocracy, and the supremacy of a priesthood, to perpetuate the slavery, ignorance, and poverty of the great body of the people, the political writers of our day, call on all mankind to obey, as the only means of social salvation.

Books Authored

The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted, 1832
Partial contents: The Natural Right of Property - The Legal Right of Property - On the Right of Property in Land - The Legal Right of Property is Undergoing Subversion by the Natural Right of Property - The Law-maker does not Establish Rights
Related Topic: Property Rights

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thomas Hodgskin" as of 27 Jun 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.