Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Beyond Abomination

Reading posts from score of Blogs a week (in addition to those I have bookmarked for their worthwhile commentary, not all of which I agree with, I caome across some strange interpretations of Adam Smith’s alleged contribution to modern predicaments.

More often than not, they are absolutely incorrect attributions, because so few actually read his books and take as ‘gospel’ instead the presumed authoritative attributions of top notch economists, Nobel prizewinners and those destined to be tomorrow’s prizewinners too, who seem not able to read what he actually wrote too.

Here’s an example from Tommy Stevenson, an associate editor at The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama (HERE)

Socialism for the rich. Not so much for the not-so-rich.

Capitalism is an economic system, as is socialism.

Democracy is a form of government, as are monarchy, theocracy and fascism in all its repugnant forms, including communism.

Morality is a system under which people try to do the right thing, both in their own lives and for their fellow men and women.

Christianity is a religious system encompassing morality, as are other major world religions like Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.

In the last 20 years or so, however, the most ardent proponents of the first system seem to have conflated it with all of rest of the above. Especially guilty are those who have elevated unfettered capitalism to an all-encompassing way of life for this country. They would have us all place our faith in Adam Smith's "invisible hand" guiding the free market system, bestowing with in that system the mystical powers of God.

But that philosophy/quasi-religion, which is really simply economic Darwinism, isn't working out so well these days, now is it

Whatever those who subscribe to “the most ardent proponents” of “unfettered capitalism” (a strange notion in that there is no country on earth where “unfettered capitalism” reigns) want “us all to place our faith in” it has and had nothing to do with Adam Smith, nor did it have anything to “unfettered” socialism (a worse abomination than capitalism, fettered or unfettered, could ever impose on anybody).

The market system is not guided by ‘invisible hands’ or by the “mystical powers of God”, or any other imaginative creation of what Adam Smith called ‘pusillanimous superstition’.

Markets work by processes and outcomes completely and well understood as any physical process in elementary knowledge. Smith covered this is Books I and II of Wealth Of Nations. Why people want to mystify markets is beyond me.


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