Capitalism is often assumed to have been invented in the Anglosphere. Writings by Hume and Smith have been named as cornerstones in the making of capitalism and modern economic knowledge. But Smith’s and the other Enlightenment Scots’ works built on a commercial tradition that had been manifest in Anglo-Saxon economics since the sixteenth century or earlier. Moreover, this tradition of thinking about commercial society became quite widespread and in the seventeenth and eighteenth century extended to the entire European continent where it has become commonly known, in its manifold regional and national variants, under the general term Cameralism
The usual genealogy of capitalist political economy, foundations of which were established by Marx (Capital, Vol. I), starts with William Petty, Richard Cantillon, Turgot and then winds down a well-known line from Adam Smith to David Ricardo, including John Stuart Mill, and Marx himself. The contributions made by continental Cameralists to the shaping of the political economy of modern capitalism on the other hand have tended to be overlooked. The present paper discusses the wider epistemic vantage points of the present special issue, some basic assumptions, as well as the broad contributions made by subsequent papers to the study of Cameralism not only as a near pan-European economic discourse during the early modern period, but also how different authors from a Cameralist vantage point and spectrum contributed to rise of modern economic analysis and modern political economies of capitalism.
I would like to thank Carl Wennerlind and Kevin Hoover for useful comments.