Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Invisible Hand no 373

George Jonas writes a piece (more of a muddled rant) on “The bovine-conservatives” (don’t ask) in National Post, a Canadian paper, here.

When the great new ideas of liberal democracy, lasseiz-faire capitalism, and Western-style individualism appeared on the world’s stage, some even-toed ungulates couldn’t stand or fathom Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” guiding society’s affairs. These frank counterrevolutionaries preferred the visible hand of royal masters, like Louis “l’État, c’est moi” XIV. They resisted free enterprise as unabashed feudalists or royalists.”

To take this seriously for a moment, it is most unlikely that ‘even-toed ungulates’ (a hoofed mammal) ‘couldn’t stand or fathom Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”.

The use of this metaphor was deep into Book IV of ‘Wealth Of Nations’ (p 456) and was hardly noticed by anybody until the 20th century when modern economists picked it out, brushed it down its dust, and turned it into a mysterious, even hinting at this ‘miraculous’ force for making even the most unlikely self-interested business polluter, monopolist, and anti-social employer into a social beneficiary, whose beneficence was as invisible as the disembodied part supposedly guiding him.

Otherwise it is a Sunday nonsense.


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