Sunday, July 10, 2005

Adam Smith No "capitalist theoretician", Tom

From the Sunday Herald, 10 July 2005, an amusing piece by Tom Shields, on of Scotland's most popular - and genuinely funny - newspaper columnists. His theme is watching the G8 demonstrations on tv.

However, Tom strays for humour into Adam Smith territory and provoked my letter below:


Tom Shields is always good value but accuracy is still a virtue. He writes: "we occupied Glasgow University’s Adam Smith building (named after some Fife capitalist theoretician, apparently)."

Adam Smith was never a "capitalist theoretician". That is the image promoted by economists too busy to read "Wealth of Nations", while engineers from Strathclyde Uni were always too busy to read.

The first use of the word "capitalist" was in 1793, three years after Smith died in 1790. The first use of the word "capitalism" was in 1858. Smith wrote about the nature and causes of wealth, i.e., annual output in a country, before capitalism and the industrial revolution.

He was a "theoretician" of agricultural and city markets in the early 18th century. Check to see the difference.

Gavin Kennedy, etc."


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