Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Here is my letter published (10 June) on “The Scotsman” (Scotland’s leading daily newspaper) responding to a regular letter-writer who is always critical of Adam Smith, aspects of his behaviour, and his ideas.
“The ‘economic doctrine of free market fundamentalism’ is a modern political distortion of Adam Smith’s moral philosophy and his political economy (Ellis Thorpe’s letter, 9 June). It has little to do with Smith’s published ideas in the 18th century.
Ellis Thorpe’s “American Business Model” (ABM) may stress slogans about “free market fundamentalism”, “low business taxes”, “self interest” and “minimal government intervention”, but Adam Smith’s proposals in his writings were far richer in their content and more balanced, with more than a touch of pragmatism.
He taught that markets should be freer of politically inspired monopoly legislation favouring some employers but not others who bribed their way into favours with some legislators, including the Crown; he had no general objection to business taxes to fund government expenditures but did not favour military ventures in Europe’s regular dynastic quarrels, the destruction of commercial
rivals and wars for colonies.
He was not opposed to government expenditures on roads, ports, canals, schools, education, pavements, cleansing and street lighting (even public health!) and the use of the Royal Navy to protect UK foreign trade and shipping from piracy and blockades.
His philosophy on self-interest expressly was not about selfishness. He wrote extensively on the mediation of self-interests by friendly conversation, persuasion, and bargaining by each party, peaceably addressing the self-interests of the other to induce them to exchange what each wanted in return for what both had to offer in exchange.
The ABM, as represented by many ideologues on the Right, has nothing to do with Adam Smith’s moral philosophy. Smith was neither a left- nor right-wing ideologue; he was a moral philosopher. His ideas were not a “remote possibility” – they depend on political will (whoever wins the referendum), which is still true today.”
(Prof) Gavin Kennedy

[Comment: I shall be voting ‘Yes’ on the 18th September Referendum on Scottish Independence]


Blogger airth10 said...

" I shall be voting ‘Yes’ on the 18th September Referendum on Scottish Independence."

Bad idea!

10:10 am  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Thank you for your comment. I do not agree with you but you are entitled to an opinion.
One of the reasons that I do not comment ion the politics of any other country other than the one I vote in (i.e., Scotland) Is precisely because I am insufficiently informed about them, their history, their legislative arrangements and their rules of law, in the way that I am in my own country. I respect the peoples in the other countries, where they have a vote and live under liberty.
I seldom express views about English politics except whee they affect Scotland.

4:20 pm  
Blogger airth10 said...

Well, I live in a country, Canada, where a province wanted to separate, Quebec. So I have some idea of separation and its politics, which I think gives me some right to comment on Scotland's situation.

I am thinking it's all a flexing of muscle by some in Scotland so it can get a better deal from the Union.

5:32 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...


Canada is a country formed by Britain in its days of Empire and in no way comparable to Scotland's peoples, in the main descended from post-ice age migrants who emigrated from elsewhere in Europe from some 8 or so millennia ago and, of course, more recently .
Scotland is not a province drawn in straight-line on a map like Quebec or the rest of Canada.. I have no view on 'Quebec Qui' and would not express it if I had one (re-moriorium on not commenting on the politics of any country other than the one I vote in.
Scotland is the other Kingdom that for the United Kingdom with England. The union of crowns occurred in the 17th century, and the union of parliaments was passed in 1707. A legislative decision lawfully passed can be lawfully reversed by democratic elections. That is how democracies function as we know of them in the UK. It is a basic principle of the British constitution as developed by practice, not statute, that no parliament can bind another succeeding parliament.
Your ideas on separation/independence for Scotland are different to mine. I have a vote here, you do not. You enjoy the liberty to express your views, as I have made clear several times. I do not question your rights to do so. I have a right to disagree and to vote 'Yes'.
PS: Even if Scotland votes 'Yes' on 18 September, the legislative instruments to ensure independence sill have to be voted on by London's parliament, where Scotland i outvoted several hundred to six.
It was only last year that the Queen (of the UK, not England) visited Ireland and the President of the Irish Republic of Ireland (Eire) officially visited the UK. The Queen would be the Scottish Head of State after independence as Scotland would remain a monarchy.

10:51 am  
Blogger airth10 said...

I understand. But I am also a British citizen so I think I am entitled to say something about it.

My grandfather was Scottish, so there is still some of that in my veins.

4:47 pm  

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