July 05, 2008

A free and open society with minimal government, clear laws and strong external defences

Excellent Summary of Adam Smith's Considered Views
from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy
Ligneus on his Blog, Road Sassy (“Dedicated to the fight against Islam and Progressives - Members of Either Are Candidates for Road Kill Here”) quotes from the The National Post an article by Peter Foster, ‘The genius of Adam Smith’, on the unveiling of the statue of Adam Smith:

He favoured a free trade relationship and even political union with North America, which he predicted would one day rise to become a greater power than Britain.

One oft-repeated criticism of Smith is that his insights could not possibly apply to a world of supermarkets and giant corporations, of automobiles and air travel, of global financial institutions and the Internet, of alleged resource depletion and worsening pollution. But despite the fact that politicians and activists persist in biting the Invisible Hand, it continues its remarkable work. More fundamentally, Smith’s insights remain valid because he was not merely a supporter of markets and a critic of overweening governments, but also a student of human nature. Indeed, Vernon Smith has pointed out that Adam Smith should also perhaps be known as the “father of psychology.”

Some have seen a fundamental contradiction between Smith’s two books, but the notion that one must choose between humans as either self-interested or sympathetic is ridiculous. Smith painted humans as complex and often internally conflicted creatures whose prudence, benevolence and ingenuity is nevertheless best encouraged in a free and open society with minimal government, clear laws and strong external defences…

Among Smith’s philosophical works is a treatise on astronomy that notes that scientific theories are designed to cater to our desire for explanations, and are always and inevitably provisional. He would thus treat claims that science of climate change was “settled” with the greatest suspicion, particularly since they come accompanied by calls for draconian government action.”

Comment: An excellent account of the importance of Adam Smith that is close to his true role in modern thinking and in stark contrast to the usual version of Smith’s work and context. You should read it in full (HERE).

No comments:

Post a Comment