The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

May 27, 2018

Intercollegiate Review Archive

Volume 8, Number 3
Winter 1972-73


The Intercollegiate Review is free to ISI members.


  • The Counter-Culture: An Historical Perspective
    Thomas Molnar
  • The Soviet Union’s “China Policy” 1949-72
    Richard Thornton
  • Science, Technology and the Cultural Revolution
    Stephen Tonsor


  • A Soldier’s Reflections
    Hanson Baldwin
  • Justice Story’s Influence on American Law
    Richard J. Bishirjian
  • Eliot’s Issue With His Age
    Louis I. Bredvold
  • Cost and Choice Reexamined
    Gerald Dwyer
  • The Decline of English Education
    Desmond Hawtrey
  • Letters to the Editor
  • The Influence of Politics on Economic Analysis
    Sudha Shenoy
  • The Symbols of Man
    Anthony van Fossen


The market economy. ..advocates, in so far as they are at all intellectually fastidious, have always recognized that the sphere of the market, of competition, of the system where supply and demand move prices and thereby govern production, may be regarded and defended only as part of a wider general order encompassing ethics, law, the natural conditions of life and happiness, the state, politics, and power. Society as a whole cannot be ruled by the laws of supply and demand, and the state is more than a sort of business company, as has been the conviction of the best conservative opinion since the time of Burke. Individuals who compete on the market and there pursue their own advantage stand all the more in need of the social and moral bonds of community, without which competition degenerates most grievously. As we have said before, the market economy is not everything. It must find its place in a higher order of things which is not ruled by supply and demand, free prices, and competition. It must be firmly contained within an all-embracing order of society in which the imperfections and harshness of economic freedom are corrected by law and in which man is not denied conditions of life appropriate to his nature. Man can wholly fulfill his nature only by freely becoming part of a community and having a sense of solidarity with it. Otherwise he leads a miserable existence and he knows it.
The truth is that a society may have a market economy and, at one and the same time, perilously unsound foundations and conditions, for which the market economy is not responsible but which its advocates have every reason to improve or wish to see improved so that the market economy will remain politically and socially feasible in the long run. There is no other way of fulfilling our wish to possess both a market economy and a sound society and a nation where people are, for the most part, happy.
A Humane Economy Chapter 3, pp. 90-91
Wilhelm Ropke

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