What the Social Classes Owe Each Other By William Graham Sumner


What the Social Classes Owe to Each Other was first published in 1883, and it asks a crucially important question: does any class or interest group have the duty and burden of fighting the battles of life for any other class or of solving the social problems to the satisfaction of any other class or group?

Sumner saw that the assumption of group obligation was destined to be a driving force behind the rise of social management in the future. Capital owes labor, the rich owe the poor, producers owe consumers, one sex owes another, one race owes another, this country owes that country, and so on ad infinitum.

How right he was, how incredibly prescient, to see this coming.

William Graham Sumner (1840–1910) was a sociologist at Yale University, a historian of American banking, and great expositor of classical liberalism. Yes, this is the man often dismissed today as an outmoded “”social Darwinist”” — and this book shows why it is so important to the statists that his work is not given a fair hearing.

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  •  Jeffrey Tucker

    What the Social Classes Owe To Each Other

    What the Social Classes Owe to Each Other by William Graham Sumner William Graham Sumner’s bracing essay here embodies the best of Gilded Age liberal thinking. Consider the time and the pre-paradigmatic period in which it was written. He was attempting to forestall what was coming: the building of the redistributionist state. His logic is impeccable, and much suffering might have been avoided had his views prevailed. Kick off the discussion! Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_What the Social Classes

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