Friday, April 2, 2010

91 / Smith

Adam Smith published his most famous book, The Wealth of Nations, in 1776, the year of the American Revolution; the year of The Declaration of Independence.

As between Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence, I'm sticking with Jefferson.

Many modern day Americans would apparently cast their lot with Smith. They seem to believe that our revolution (which was intended to, and did result in a strong central government) was not intended to establish a government at all, but to create a place in which the moral philosophies of Adam Smith could be given a chance to show their stuff.

Smith's moral philosophy is the doctrine of the "invisible hand." Each person will follow his or her own selfish ends, and that marvelous "invisible hand" will sum it all up to the public good.

Those who have practical control over the strong central government that the American Revolution created (people - and particularly corporations - with lots of money and the ability to tend to their own needs, first, last, and always) find the Adam Smith philosophy congenial. Everyone pursues their own selfish interest, and the net result is: what's best for all! And to be candid about it, the net result is very good for those with the money and power.

I think Joseph Tussman is right, and that the moral philosophy of Adam Smith is precisely what has "subverted the authentic conception of democratic political life...."

Therefore, let me say it again: I'm sticking with Jefferson!

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