Sunday, June 04, 2006

Invisible Hand no 36

Came across this piece today while checking emails. It was in the middle of an article about the Da Vinci code film! It manages to almost get Smith’s metaphor right but then goes on to credit it as something ‘enshrined’ with ‘the global free trade market’. It comes from a Marxist publication of the Trotskyist persuasion.

The “hidden hand”, the metaphor of the 18th century economist Adam Smith for the operations of the market, is now enshrined and worshipped with the rankest superstition in the dominant doctrines of neo-liberalism and the global free trade market which it lauds and idealises. Conspiracy theories, though not new, are the alternative religion to the official one, the cult of the market, of Smith’s benign “hidden hand”. People know that if there is a hidden hand, it is not benign – it is “them” and not “us”.

From Workers’ Liberty - Solidarity Online 4 June.

On much of this theme the far left and conventional economists agree – they differ on whether the metaphor is malign or benign. But as the invisible hand had nothing to do with markets the choice is somewhat pointless.

In all of Smith’s writings – over a million and a half words only 3 uses of the metaphor of the invisible hand are recorded, and on each occasion it had nothing to do with markets. But like all conspiracy theories, why spoil them with facts?


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