Oliver Cussen

Oliver Cussen teaches history at the University of Chicago.

Bourgeois Stew: Alexis de Tocqueville

Oliver Cussen, 16 November 2023

On​ 24 February 1848, having already forced Louis Philippe out of the Tuileries Palace, the Paris crowd stormed the Chamber of Deputies, where France’s political elite was fighting over the remnants of the July Monarchy. A series of ministers had been trying to form a provisional government under the regency of the Duchesse d’Orléans, the former king’s...

Recognition of nature’s finitude served as a ‘conceptual a priori to economic thought’, if not undermining optimism then at least providing a note of caution in an age otherwise obsessed with perfectibility and progress. If even the most optimistic climate theorists were haunted by the prospect of degradation and, in extreme cases, apocalypse, it was because they lived in Adam Smith’s world, where the pursuit of prosperity was partly motivated by a ‘permanent anxiety’ about the limits of nature.

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