Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Despotism of Consumption

Montesquieu made an important distinction between commerce ‘ordinarily founded on luxury’ and commerce ‘more often founded on economy’. If the latter rested on ‘the practices of gaining little…. and of being compensated only by gaining continually’, the former sought ‘to procure for the nation engaging in it all that serves its arrogance, its delights, its fancies’. Moreover if Montesquieu associated ‘economical commerce’ with ‘government by the many’, he associated commerce of luxury with ‘government by one alone’. The concern, in short, was that the activity of commerce would so isolate people from one another, would so lead them to be preoccupied with their own private affairs, that a new kind of despotism would emerge. Jeremy Jennings, Despotism after Liberalism.

photo via

prompted by a remark by Kia about business books, over at Gifthub.

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