Dave Anderson’s terminological prescription to the The Democratic Party — ‘Mixed Economy’— and its attestation in Balbir Singh Sihag’s book ‘Kaultiya The True Founder of Economics’

Megh Kalyanasundaram
2 min readNov 22, 2020

Earlier today, I read Dave Anderson’s Nov 21 2020 article Democrats fell into the language trap — again. The following lines in his piece, in particular, caught my eye:

The Democratic Party has fallen into the language trap again, only this time they themselves have used some of the key words and talking points that the Republicans previously used to defeat both sitting members and Democrats running for open seats.

There is a straightforward solution to the language issue, while the substantive policy issue is much more complicated. Democrats need to stop using the following words: socialism, capitalism, and liberalism. Each of these words ruins them.

The word they should use, which is actually two words with one hyphen connecting them, two words which are arguably most accurate from an academic point of view, are these: “mixed-economy.” This term became popular in post-World War II Great Britain and was used to describe economies that were a mixture of capitalism and socialism.

It is not a sexy word, but it tells the truth.

Mixed-economies fall in between economies that revolve around the private ownership of the means of production and the public ownership of the means of production. These economies have political mechanisms that redistribute income (and to some extent wealth) and regulate business and the private sector in general. Mixed-economies may have some government institutions that replace private sector mechanisms with public ones, such as health care and child care.[Emphasis added]

Those with an academic interest in, amongst other things, a global and inclusive history of Economics and State Policy, might perhaps find it interesting to note the presence of Dave’s terminological prescription to The [American] Democratic Party — ‘Mixed Economy’ — in the following excerpts from Professor Balbir Singh Sihag’s book ‘Kaultiya The True Founder of Economics’:

“Kautilya, thus, recommended a mixed economy in which the private sector has the predominant position while the public sector too has an active role in support of governance and in facilitating economic growth in the private sector.” (Location 100 of 6171, Kindle edition)

Compensation for the Profit Foregone: Kautilya proposed mixed economy in which the state had a monopoly to manufacture certain goods. According to him, the Director of Trade should evaluate what would be the loss to the state, should he authorize private traders to sell such products rather than selling those through the state’s own outlets” (Page 70 of 430, Kindle edition)

Related read: That which Iain McLean called ‘one of the finest parts of WN,’ seen in the light of Balbir Singh Sihag’s analysis of the अर्थशास्त्र (Arthaśāstra)