Monday, January 01, 2007

An Unseasonal Blast from a Marxist

Oh, dear, I have upset someone, unintentionally, for which I apologise, though I am not sure what I did to deserve such opprobium. Marxists and extreme Libertarians lack a capacity for criticism (and don't have a reputation for humour). But out of the blue - it is the season of parties and perhaps in vino veritas - comes this extraordinary blast:

“Gavin Kennedy titles his blog, "Adam Smith's Lost Legacy". So he must be only joking in this post when he whines about Stiglitz advocating government action to counter imperfections in information. (Kennedy also goes off, as right-wingers tend to do, with strawpersons and irrelevancies about the former Soviet Union.)”

I have no wish to quarrel with a fellow Blogger, though I am more than willing to contest untruths about Adam Smith and his writings based on his Texts, but the above en passant reference is among the most strangest I could imagine, It comes amidst a posting of Robert Vienneau’s on his interesting but unreconstructed Blog (apparently the failed practical application of Marxism never happened), Thoughts on Economics (at: in a posting entitled: “Adam Smith On An Information Asymmetry” (1 January 2007).

Robert apparently refers to my posting on 28 December: “Galbraith and Stiglitz's Naive Belief in 'Santa' Government’ ”. I’ll let that stand on the merits of its argument: briefly that market failure, a phenomenon noted by Adam Smith, though denied by extreme libertarians, is solvable by government intervention. Those governments also fail in their economic management, a point apparently denied by believers in the inevitable failure of markets and in the extreme form of Marxist governments (e.g., Soviet socialist governments) and this is in my mind worth commenting upon. Extreme libertarians and unreconstructed Marxists have much in common; they are blind to the inherent weaknesses of their preferred systems.

For this I am accused of being ‘rightwing’, a ludicrous appellation that would bring a smile to those acquainted with me, as would the appellation of being
‘Leftwing’ to the same people, who find me ‘ideologically unsound’, apparently.

I present only the authentic views of Adam Smith (like me, a person who defied categorization politically – ‘idiosyncratic’ was how someone described me after professionally analysing my political attitudes), and I have no political axes to grind. If Robert finds that uncomfortable it is because he carries the deadweight of the experience of government planning, the unrestrained (by popular votes of dissent) imposition of Marxist policies by determined governments, let alone the experience of government interventions in secular democracies.

The truth is I do not share his, or Galbraith’s, or Stiglitz’s, faith in governments as a remedy to what is called market failure. If democratic governments fail, with all of their advantages, and totalitarian governments fail with all of their powers against dissent, just which electable governments (I would not contemplate any other) would succeed?

Robertm please continue to visit Adam Smith’s Lost legacy website for economics education only; leave your politics outside. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss your Marxist ideas in so far as relate to those of Adam Smith.


Blogger Robert Vienneau said...

The post is irrelevancies and strawpersons. I do not claim to be Marxist, and for good reason.

But more useully, Gavin should try typing the following around URLs
<A HREF="">some text the user sees</A>

8:41 am  
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