Radical Heroes

Léon Walras

Léon WalrasMarie-Esprit-Léon Walras (1834-1910) was one of the triumvirate (along with William Stanley Jevons and Karl Menger) of economists who launched the “Marginal Revolution” and created the neo-classical economics that defined the field in the twentieth century. Best known as the founder of the theory of perfectly competitive “general equilibrium”, Walras is often misinterpreted as having believed that existing institutions created perfect competition and thus that general equilibrium was an appropriate model of existing economies. Instead, Walras believed that most societies were shackled by feudal monopolies and that private property in land was inconsistent with free competition. A vigorous opponent of Marxist central planning, Walras advocated what he called “synthetic socialism” in which common ownership of land and vigorous government policy against monopolies would ensure truly free competition.