Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Faculteit der Economische en Toegepaste Economische Wetenschappen
Tijdschrift voor Economie en Management vol:53 issue:1 pages:93-108
Jonathan Swift’s classic satirical narrative Gulliver’s Travels was first published in 1726, seven years after Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Swift reported on extraordinary lands and societies, notably the minute inhabitants of Lilliput, the giants of Brobdingnag, and the Yahoos in Houyhnhnmland, where talking horses are the dominant species. While Dufoe decribed a primitive paradise, Swift discovered sophisticated utopias, superior or at least equal to European civilization of his time. Was it a coincidence that Jonathan Swift’s utopias were all situated in the “East"? What was the economic nature of these utopias and what can it tell us of Swift’s economic orientation? Summarizing, Swift represented economics both as a utopia and as a threat. Being part of European Enlightenment Swift viewed « Asian governance and economics » in a positive light but simultaneously he emphasized the hypocrisy and failure of man as a « homo economicus», regardless the economic system implemented. In the end not the system is wrong but man himself. One might argue that if Swift lived today he would agree that the present rebirth of neo-classics looks very promising, however, “man", as a social and psychological being, is not yet ready for it.