Popular Philosophy and Popular Economics: Bertrand Russell, 1919-70


  • J. E. King La Trobe University




By 1918 Bertrand Russell had well-formed and distinctive opinions on many aspects of economic philosophy, theory and policy. In the second half of his life (1919–70) he wrote at great length on a very wide range of economic issues, including modern technology and the prospects for abolishing scarcity; population growth, eugenics and birth control; the economic development of China; the case for democratic socialism; the case against Soviet communism; the causes of economic crises; and the economic background to war and peace. Russell’s economic writings appeared as chapters of books on subjects as diverse as the philosophy of science, the history of nineteenth-century Europe, the principles of education and the case for world government. Economic themes can be detected even in his most frivolous newspaper articles. He was a great literary stylist, and his popular writings on economics were widely read and possibly quite influential, especially between the wars.