This course examines the foundations of political economy. While these foundations were originally optimistic, promising human progress through economic progress, they were challenged in the 19th century by both reactionary pessimism and by radical critique. In our own time, growing awareness of the problems of generating unlimited growth and granting unrestricted capital mobility across nations have led some to question the idea of economic progress. The course demonstrates the historical novelty of capitalism and demonstrates that the human impulse to accumulation of capital is in no way a fundamental part of the human condition. By contrast with today, until the early 19th century in Europe, the needs of the society have historically taken precedence over the needs of the economy. The writings of classical thinkers in political economy will be explored to develop these ideas. No prior knowledge of modern political theory or of economics is assumed.