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Austria Supreme (if it so Wishes) (1684): 'A Strategy for European Economic Supremacy

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A scholarly introduction to the Austrian-German mercantilist classic ‘Oesterreich über Alles Wann es Nur Will’ (1684) by Philipp Wilhelm von Hörnigk


Between its first date of publication in 1684 and 1784 classic ‘Oesterreich über Alles Wann es Nur Will’ went through more than twenty known editions which makes it, arguably, Europe’s most successful ‘economics textbook’ prior to Adam Smith’s ‘Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’ (1776). Philipp Wilhelm von Hörnigk laid in this book the foundations of what has become known as the ‘mercantilist’ political economy – a strategy for achieving national wealth and political strength simultaneously by building up a competitive domestic manufacturing industry with the help of the state. Hörnigk advocated standard recipes known from modern development economics, such as import substitution, protective tariffs on select goods as well as bounties and other financial as also logistic support by a proactive interventionist state in order to safeguard and nurture domestic industries that were in a state of infancy but which would be promising candidates for future growth and economies of scale. As new work by Erik Reinert and Lars Magnusson has shown, contrary to a sort of mainstream view in modern economics and economic history, it was such policies that tended to make European countries rich in the pre-industrial age, also laying the basic foundations for subsequent industrialization – even the ‘Great Divergence’ between Europe and Asia post 1800. Most European states were interventionist during the nineteenth century. They obviously drew upon a menu of recipes and political economy schedules that had circulated widely in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and which would subsequently also influence the major works by Friedrich List, Daniel Raymond and other nineteenth-century development theorists.


Based on Hörnigk’s popularity and the publication pattern for the book, the ‘Hörnigk’ strategy stood at the core of many a treatise and book written on economic matters in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe; in fact Hörnigk may be called the forefather of modern development economics. He certainly was a towering figure in the ‘Germanic’ economic discourses of the early modern period. ‘Austria Supreme, if It So Wishes (1684)’ will be the first-ever English translation of a work the importance of which for European economic development and the ‘European Miracle’ cannot be overestimated.


1. Philipp Wilhelm Von Hörnigk – Life and Times ; 2. An Age of Reason? Enlightenment and Economics; 3. Cameralism – Baroque-O-Nomics; 4. Extremis Morbis Extrema Veniant Remedia – Analytical Summary of Hörnigk’s ‘Oesterreich Über Alles’ (1684); 5. How Europe Got Rich – The Austrian Example; Austria Supreme (if it so wishes) (1684); Index.

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Published by
Published 25 June 2018
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EAN13 9781783088225
Language English

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