Even though the field of "economic systems" gained attention in the twentieth century, previous writers on social and economic matters throughout history did not neglect to stress the importance of different economic organizations. Early writers of Greece, Rome, and Medieval Europe contributed ideas that proved to be helpful in understanding and further promoting economic evolution along with social, cultural, and political changes.
The mercantilists and the classical economists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries centered attention on matters of capital accumulation or acquisition through economic growth or the wealth of nations, as Adam Smith called it. Malthus, Say, Ricardo, and Mill, all belonging to the classical school, however, were concerned with the limits of economic growth and capital accumulation because of expected rapid growth of population.
Marx and Schumpeter provided new insights into the problems of economic organization and business fluctuations, whereas Keynes, Hansen, and Galbraith see progress from the point of view of stagnation, economic concentration, and state intervention.
All those pioneer economists contributed valuable ideas that deserve far more discussion than the brief review offered in the following sections of this chapter. It is important, therefore, to find out which elements those economists considered responsible for economic organizational changes of their periods and what the similarities are with the problems of current developments regarding different economic systems.