The upcoming discussion will update you about the differences in ideas of John Stuart Mill and Classical Economists.

1. Theory of Economic Development:

The classical economists had dealt with the equilibrium state of a static society, whereas Mill believed in a dynamic society. He said that in an advancing society, there were progress in wealth, advancement of material prosperity, increase in production and population, growth of man’s power over nature, knowledge of the property and laws of physical objects, increase in security of person and property against the arbitrary power of the government, improvement in business capacity, great capacity of united action, cooperation and association of workers. He accepted the concept that when a society advanced in wealth, population increased faster than the agricultural skill, making food price high.

2. Functions of Government:

Mill opposed the classical economists view of laissez faire policy and extended the Government intervention in those activities which aimed at maximising the human welfare, regulation of working hours, control of public works, scientific experiments, education, administration of charity and preservation of the interests of consumers etc.

He classified the functions of Government as authoritative (necessary) and non-authoritative (cooperative). He considered that the Government agencies were essential for their performance, and their duties, among others, were to repress violence, to preserve the evidence of facts, to afford protection against force and to provide for the dependents.

3. Mill and Socialism:


Mill was not merely a political economist but also a social reformer. He supported the working class movement. He developed his economic ideas relating to socialism from social thinkers like Saint Simonians, Sismondi and others.

He divided human race into two-employers and employed. He said that there should be cooperation among them. There might be association of labourers among themselves. His socialist programme has been described as “individualist socialist programme”.

Mill considered wage-system the enemy of progress, for it deprives man of all interest in the product of his labour. Mill borrowed the ideal of cooperative community from the French socialists. Mill stated that rent is a differential surplus and suggested a tax on land would gradually absorb rent.

He advocated peasant proprietorship. He considered the right of inheritance, one of the basic obstacles to individual liberty and a source of danger to free competition. He argued that nobody should be allowed to inherit above a certain sum.


The following are the programmes for social uplift:

(1) To remove all legal and fiscal impediments to the transfer of land,

(2) To restrict within the narrowest limits, the power of tying up land,

(3) To secure the abolition of the law of inheritance,


(4) To claim for the state, the interception by taxation of the future unearned increase of the rent of land,

(5) To promote a policy of encouragement to cooperative agriculture,

(6) To promote the acquisition of land in a similar manner to be let to small cultivators,

(7) To make available land belonging to the crown or public bodies or charitable and other endowments, for the same purpose………… as well as for the improvement of the dwellings of working class,

(8) To retain all waste lands for national uses,

(9) To retain less fertile lands for natural beauty and 

(10) To obtain for the state the power to take possession of all natural objects.

By all these suggestions Mill aimed at increasing the general happiness of society. He wanted to see that all legal and fiscal hurdles which stood in the way of transfer of land were removed; land was acquired and let out to small cultivators. The dwellings of workers were improved. All waste lands were to be retained for national uses and less fertile lands for beautification and general enjoyment of the community.

The prominent three proposals are abolition of the law of inheritance, interception by the State, of the future unearned increment of rent i.e., socialization of rent and organisation of cooperative agriculture, producers’ cooperatives and workers associations, i.e., gradual abolition of the wage system.