Friday, April 03, 2009

More Signs of the Early Eddies of an Incoming Tide?


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Justus writes, Words Seeking Justus HERE:

‘Great Article - Huge Error’

I emphatically agree with 90% of Mark Vernon's article in the UK Guardian (HERE):

'I really like that Vernon emphasizes that virtues are not a restraint to our individual humanity, but that they allow individuals to live more abundant and satisfied lives. However, Vernon goes on to faultily blames Adam Smith and his invisible hand:

"Part of the problem here is capitalism, again. Its success stems in large part on appealing to our worst instincts. In one formulation at least, it is a system in which each person is supposed to look after their own self-interests, deliberately to the exclusion of others. That is the "ethical" thing to do, since by the power of the invisible hand, good is then bound to spread to all. No one believes that anymore."

Smith used the term "invisible hand" only once, and it was a common expression of the day, not a defining element, metaphor, theory, explanation, or summary of Smith's ideals. Smith also goes into detail in his works to differentiate self-interest from selfishness or greed. He was critical of entities that, through government-granted monopoly or limited liability, separated the interests of the owners from the interests of the managers and workers, which I personally view as a curse to our modern version of corporate capitalism. The term capitalism hadn't been invented while Smith was alive, and he despised the term laissez-faire. Overall, he saw order coming out of chaos in the action of individuals, but made plain that both governments and privileged businesses distorted the natural market between people.
The ethical thing to do is to act ethically. This is much easier for individuals with a moral or ethical framework to do. It is much more difficult for a non-human legal entity, such as a corporation, to do
."

Comment
This is another example of those tiny pieces of evidence that the orthodox modern invention, as in the Chicago ‘Adam Smith’, created in the 1930s and spread by Paul Samuelson from 1948, who bore little resemblance to the Adam Smith born in Kirkcaldy in 1723, is likely to be under siege in the 21st century.

I encourage readers of Lost Legacy who see pieces in their local or national media that portray the Chicago Adam Smith (a most useful label from Jerry Evensky’sAdam Smith’s Moral Philosophy: a historical and contemporary perspective on markets, ethics, and culture, 2005, Cambridge University Press) without a blush, instead of the ‘real deal’ expressed in the Kirkcaldy Adam Smith, to drop a comment to said media (even send a copy to myself).

Let’s see if the power of the Internet and the Blogosphere can make up for the 16 editions of Samuelson’s Economics text in the next ten years!

NB: Be clear, I admire Paul Samuelson’s academic work; it was an isolated snappy paragraph in his introductory textbook that did much of the damage to Adam Smith’s legacy, as usual and without doubt, unintentionally. It was the Chicago oral tradition that set this hare running.

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