Thorstein Veblen

I never expected to write "Thorstein Veblen reminds me of Robin Hanson," but upon rereading Theory of the Leisure Class he does.  Everything is reduced to evolutionary biology.  Signaling and status-seeking are at the forefront of virtually every explanation.  Industrial habits spring from man’s biological nature, transplanted into a new and strange environment.  Had I reread this ten years (I first read it as a teen, and not since, then I hated it) ago, it would have been a revelation.  Now it sounds like a typical lunch discussion with the guys, with Spence, Hayek, and Geoffrey Miller sprinkled in.

Veblen, however, is a blowhard as a writer and Robin is not.

Here is Mark Blaug on Veblen.  Here are links to Veblen articles.  Here are more links.  Here is Mencken on Veblen.

I tried two other Veblen books and found them unreadable.  The guy deserves much more credit than he gets, especially from conservatives and libertarians, but read the evolutionary biologists first.

#20 in a series of 50.


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