Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Happiness and Welfare in Cameralist Discourse

Eroshchev-Shak Aleksandr, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

Mainly interpreted primarily as a complex management science and academic discourse, cameralism postulates a desire to order and regulate knowledge in various aspects related to the state economy - whether it is financial management, tax collection, mining or military budgeting. However, behind the “order” for the benefit of the sovereign and the state, on which canonical texts focus, one can not notice the main goal that the authors of treatises and textbooks of the 17th-18th centuries strove for. In the eclectic system of cameralist ideas, "order" was a means rather than a final goal; the main intention of these texts is the desire for well-being and happiness, mutual for the sovereign and his subjects. The concept of happiness and welfare appears in most of the classical treatises written by cameralists; at the same time, the set of connotations and causal relationships sometimes changed from text to text. In some cases (Seckendorff, 1656), "happiness" and "well-being" are based on peace and the absence of threats (both internal and external) and the contentment of subjects; in other cases, these concepts act as the basis for an argument that justifies the unlimited power of the sovereign (Schröder, 1713). Finally, in the middle of the XVIII century "happiness" and "well-being" lay down on the basis of the concept of state interest, thereby marking the final synthesis of the sovereign and his subjects (Kottencamp, 1747; Justi, 1758). The concept of "happiness" has absorbed economic (the possibility of possession and usage of the necessary benefits, as well as the inviolability of private property), legal (possession and use of one's own rights) and social aspects (respect and honor from other people). Over time, the meaning of this concept and its articulation changed, following the transformations of discourse: in earlier works, in which the power of the sovereign was justified by the Divine will, worldly happiness coexisted on a par with spiritual one (the ruler had to take care that his subjects achieve both types of happiness). Later, when the argumentation of power passed into the plane of natural law, happiness appeared already in a purely material sense. Thus, being one of significant elements of cameralistic discourse, the analysis of the concept of happiness makes it possible to mark and evaluate its transformation, acting as a link between "state", "order" and "Kammer". (Session: Cameralist's Discourse: Change and Emulation)


Keywords: Cameralism, happiness, welfare, political economy, order, police, power, state, sovereign, discourse