A New Perspective on
the Modern Industrial Economy
MUCH of what is now written in economics on the subject of growth, capital, and distribution has as its underlying conception the nineteenth-century capitalist state. In the minds of the classical economists and their successors, this world was a simple one in which key elements were the rates at which machinery (capital) accumulated and technological progress improved each generation of the machine. In this world, the labor which worked the machines was easily described as an army of identical factory hands, and the owners of the machines as either accumulating capitalists or maximizers of wealth. The working and capitalist classes as economic groups corresponded closely enough to the social classes of the nineteenth-century industrial economy; so that for a time, at least, the economic picture was organically consistent with broad views of society formulated by both capitalist and Marxian scholars.
The perspectives in the nineteenth-century picture of capital accumulation were probably relevant well into the present century and a powerful armory of specific analytical techniques developed in conjunction with the broad picture. However, at the present time, the nineteenth‐ century perspective has become a cumbersome obstacle to an understanding of the nexus of economic and social problems within advanced economies and new orientations are needed. Economic characteristics