Thursday, November 08, 2007

British Tories Seize the Initiative on Adam Smith's Social Policies

Cameron vows to reclaim core Tory values from Left
Back to Central Government
” (here)
and also on Conservative Home(here)
“Cameron takes Tory message of social justice to Labour heartlands

"The co-op movement has generally been associated with the political left," he will say.

"I think that's a shame. First, because there have always been people on the centre-right concerned about the effects of capitalism on the social fabric.

"Men like Carlyle and Disraeli, following the tradition of Edmund Burke and Adam Smith himself, who recognised at the outset of the industrial revolution that profit was not the only organising principle of a healthy society.

"And second, because the co-operative principle captures precisely the vision of social progress that we on the centre-right believe in: the idea of social responsibility, that we're all in this together, that there is such a thing as society - it's just not the same thing as the state

This is a welcome approach to Adam Smith from the Conservative Party leader. It goes to the core of what community is about and is very much in line with Adam Smith’s analysis of commercial society and his moral philosophy in Moral Sentiments.

It steps away from the singular rightwing message about Adam Smith that focuses solely on the theoretical purity of markets and ignores the rest of his analysis in Moral Sentiments, Lectures on Jurisprudence, and Wealth Of Nations (all available in low-priced editions from Liberty Fund from Amazon).

I urge rightwing-minded people who only know of Adam Smith quotations and have never read his books to do so. He had much to say that you will find in his sympathetic moral philosopy on relations within the family and community and their wider social bonds.

For balance, I would urge those of a leftwing disposition who see Adam Smith as a ideologue of capitalism (a word and phenomenon he never knew) also to read his books. You will learn that he took an humanitarian view of people's liberty and had deep suspicions of those who influenced legislatures for their own interests in monopoly, pricing and colonial adventures.


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