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The Political Orientation of Thorstein Veblen


  • Henry, John F.

    () (University of Missouri, Kansas City)


Veblen’s political orientation has been portrayed as nebulous. The absence of a systematic approach in his work leaves the door open to differing understandings of Veblen’s politics itself. All students of this intellectual agree that there is a radical component to his position, but there is no agreement as to how far his radicalism extends, nor even what the precise nature of his radicalism was. This opens the door to different understandings. The purpose of this paper is to attempt to position Veblen’s politics within the context of his analysis of the mature capitalism of his day – what may be called oligopolistic capitalism. His political perspective both informed and was informed by his economic theory of the capitalism that surrounded him. His critical economic examination of capitalism could not have been undertaken without his political orientation, and that examination of the “evolutionary” process of capitalism promoted the development and modification of his politics.

Suggested Citation

  • Henry, John F., 2014. "The Political Orientation of Thorstein Veblen," European Journal of Economic and Social Systems, Lavoisier, vol. 26(1-2), pages 31-54.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:ejessy:0009

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    Veblen; Marx; politics; capitalism; vested interests;

    JEL classification:

    • B00 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - General - - - History of Economic Thought, Methodology, and Heterodox Approaches
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • P10 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism


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