Thursday, May 25, 2006

Great News for the Truth About Adam Smith

Prospect Magazine, London, UK, June

Iain MacLean interviews Adam Smith in a scene from the University of Glasgow. It is the best short guide to the policies of the real Adam Smith, incomparably more accurate than most of the claims about Smith that appear in the world’s press and which I comment on here regularly.

If the article represents the content of the eagerly awaited (by me anyway) new book from Iain MacLean due out on 22 June, Adam Smith: Radical and Egalitarian, Edinburgh University Press, then the book deserves to do very well.

On the basis of this article, I found little in Iain MacLean's approach with which I disagree. MacLean is spot on dealing with the alleged theory of the Invisible Hand, Laissez-Faire, Capitalism and the boundaries of the State, so often presented misleadingly by many authors (see my review of David Warsh’s recent, readable, but often wrong, new book earlier this week).

What a pleasure to read an account of Adam Smith with which I agree in almost all parts. I especially liked Iain Maclean's elaboration on a theme in my ‘Adam Smith’s Lost Legacy’ (Palgrave 2005) of the real reason why Smith did not complete his 31-year old promise to publish his book on Jurisprudence.

This was due to his prudence that such a book would cause offence to the constitutional monarch in that he was bound to appraise positively the US rebellion and the US Constitution in terms of Liberty; or if he said nothing about it, he would offend his own principles. The need for prudence was occasioned by the unforgiving reaction of the British establishment to acts of, or sympathy for, rebellion. That his prudence was justified in light of the reactions against his Works following the French Terror in 1793 and the judicial investigations into his friends’ conduct.

Iain MacLean advances the idea that Smith would be sympathetic to New Labour in Britain. I will await my reading of his book before commenting on this theme.
You can order Iain MacLean’s, Adam Smith: Radical and Egalitarian, from Amazon.


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