From Obscurity to Clarity
Joerg Drescher writes Basic Income News HERE
“Obviously, the Pirates want to give the population a share to define this aim. Other parties, however, often leave this, figuratively spoken with Adam Smith, to the invisible hand of the market. In my view, the popularity of the Pirates is based on the feeling expressed by a growing number of people that this invisible hand prevents them from participating in the common wealth.”
What this means is hard to figure. By dragging in a mythical Adam Smith claiming that he said anything about “the invisible hand of the market”, only obscures its meaning even more. As the mythical invisible-hand does not exist in any form that the inventors’ imagine – it is only a metaphor and therefore does not “prevent them from participating in the common wealth” and as a metaphor it has no metaphoric connection with markets – it would pay such believers to investigate to what Adam Smith was referring when he used that figure of speech only once in Wealth Of Nations.
For a start they should read carefully the first 9 paragraphs of Book IV.ii.1-9: 452-56. There is nothing about markets; there are several mentions of some, but not all, merchants who prefer to invest locally rather than abroad because of their felt insecurity of letting their capital out of their sight in strange foreign countries to people they know less well and under justice systems they distrust. It is their insecurity (mentioned three times in paragraph 9) that cannot be seen by observers because a person’s state of mind is invisible (unlike very visible prices and quantities).
Metaphorically, insecurity is ‘an invisible hand’ that leads them to invest locally. Hardly the greatest idea in the history of social science! But it was a great use of a popular 17th-18th -century metaphor by Adam Smith.