Saturday, September 16, 2006

'Hard Core' Adam Smith?

It is a trifle extreme to describe Adam Smith as the ‘man behind hard-core capitalism. What exactly does that mean? Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favour of a degree of literary license, but ‘hard-core’ is a statement loaded with intent.

Some statements about Adam Smith emanating fro the environs of Chicago create an image of the Adam Smith of Kirkcaldy wildly at variance with the historical man who lived from 1723 to 1790, who wrote Moral Sentiments (1759) and Wealth of Nations (1776), and who gave the Lectures in Jurisprudence (1762-4).

Here is an extract from the piece by Christopher Koch in Change Management (published by CIO of Framlingham, Mass, USA):

“The New Science of Change
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get people to alter the ways they do things. New research reveals why it’s so hard and suggests strategies to make it easier.

“Think the man behind hard-core capitalism, Adam Smith, didn't have a touchy-feely side? Check out his writings about the power of self-determination and the "impartial spectator" in changing human behavior. Find links to both of these stories.”

See what I mean: ‘a touchy-feely side’? It grabs your attention, for sure, but I am less sure the language is appropriate to describe the alternative to something called ‘hard core capitalism’, allegedly found in Moral Sentiments (the clue being a mention for the ‘impartial spectator’).

If it gets people to click through, fine. If they read what they find when they arrive, even better. And if they read the complete volume, better still.

See the article at: CIO, Framingham, MA:


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