LET US DEBATE WITHOUT RANCOUR, PLEASE!
Michael Perelman, a prolific writer on Adam Smith, has posted on “Econospeak (annals of the economically incorrect)” HERE and HERE
“The Ideological Fraud of Adam Smith, beginning with the pin factory.”
“I just posted the paper I will give tomorrow at the History of Economics meetings. The Ideological Fraud of Adam Smith, beginning with the pin factory. I hope you enjoy reading what a fraud he was.”
Strong Stuff indeed. I was immediately reminded of a simular sharp critique of Smith’s division of labour in Salim Rashid’s “The Myth of Adam Smith” 1998. Edwin Edgar: Cheltenham - see chapter 3 on the division of labour, pp. 13-29.Michael follows a similar critique of Smith personally (alleged deceitful, and with insufficient acknowledgment of his predecessors, etc.,), though Michael crosses the line to some speculative personal abuse that is unfortunate; such ad hominen language that alleges bad character for scholarly veracity, and bad moral character, may deter his readers and listeners at the HES annual meeting today from taking note of the constructive parts of his paper. (In the past meetings of HES that I attended from 2006 to 2009, I found the participants properly critical/sceptical but without any personal rancour evident between them).
For all the alleged roles of Smith as an 'ideologist' committed to the boss classes in Michael Perelman’s paper, Smith had very little to say favourable to ‘the rulers of mankind’ and was sharply critical of ‘merchants and manufacturers’ going about their business, so much so, I should think readers would be hard put to say that Smith ‘sang their praises’ in Wealth Of Nations, or earlier in Moral Sentiments, where his criticisms of the conduct of landlords, king’s men, government ministers, and politicians were often severe.
Also, given Michaels’ commiment to his own ideological positions, I think it somewhat weak to assert that Smith’s stance as a pragmatic philosopher was compromised by describing what he observed in the times in which he wrote, where repressive laws were common and punishments for questioning them or being critical of them were far more severe than anything Michael could face today.I shall comment on Michael’s paper later this weekend on its merits, without questioning Michael’s motives or his conduct. He has a point of view, some of which I would agree with, but also much of which I do not agree.