The Future of Everything

January 25, 2012

Vilfredo Pareto and the Occupy movement

Filed under: World Finance column — Tags: — David @ 9:22 am

From World Finance

One of the founders of neoclassical economics in the late 19th century was the Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto. It might seem that the musings of a neoclassical economist over a century ago would have little in common with the concerns of the Occupy protestors who recently set up camp in cities all over the world – but his work dealt with similar preoccupations, such as wealth distribution, social stability, ideology, and the role of protest.

Pareto, who was the son of an exiled Italian aristocrat and civil engineer, trained as an engineer in Turin (his dissertation on “The Fundamental Principles of Equilibrium in Solid Bodies” would later inform his thinking on equilibrium in the economy). He went on to become director of a railway company, then a steel company, but was also involved in liberal politics. A dedicated democrat, he attacked the Italian government for corruption and corporatism, and railed against excess regulation.

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