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Adam Smith (Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers)

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Learn more and compare subscriptions. Or, if you are already a subscriber Sign in. Close drawer menu Financial Times International Edition. You're right, of course, David and lots of people have been trying to point this out for some time, Paul Krugman amaong them. And don't get me started about Republican attempts to claim that hippy Thomas Paine as one of their one. I would quibble with your suggestion that Marxism was "long ago disproved.

Sciblogs | Things Adam Smith got wrong

The Soviet Union tried to build communism on, basically, a feudal state, which lacked the means of production and distribution Marx said capitalism would create. Ditto China, for the most part. Again, I'm not saying Marx is right, but only that, were Marx here to discuss it, he would say, "Disproved? It hasn't even been tested yet, but regulation-cutting in the US suggests we may very soon. Nitpicker, not all of Marx is disproved. Indeed, mainstream economists credit him with many discoveries and useful insights into the processes of capital formation.

Moreover, his appraisal of the "contradictions of capitalism"… the way that capitalist competition both engenders great creative wealth-making… but also the seeds of its own destruction, as the winder of competition proceed to CHEAT… these all retain validity. Still, her was a quasi cult leader in his last 30 years and a lot of his writings were just-so stories.

Otteson Publishes New Book On Adam Smith

His Labor Theory of Value is utter drivel. His tendentious model of what will happen next WWHN was simply wrong on all counts. He never understood that the proletariate could be diverted into either knee-jerk fascism Nazism or the US confederacy or else that it could be completely co-opted, as Roosevelt did, by inviting them into the Middle Class and delivering individualistic paradise for an entire human life-span. I will qualify that by saying the today's world plutocracy seems bound and determined to bring Marxism back, by betraying and destroying that Rooseveltean social compact. More and more, in coming years, you will see re-appraisals claiming Marx's teleology had only been delayed and that the rise of an uber-plutocratic caste fits his model, to a T.

As will the subsequent radicalization of world proletariates. And for once, Washington gridlock may be a good thing. Ordinarily, Republicans in congress would be all for giving the president authority to fast-track a corporate-friendly treaty. If congress fights the president on this one, it will make it harder for TPP to be ratified, which in turn will further incite the business-Republicans against the Tea Party. I call that a win-win situation. Hayek only looks inconsistent if you try to read his earlier works as stand-alone truths.

If you read deeper, though, you can see he was an empiricist and had to change course as he learned. He left the business cycle stuff because the foundation material he needed wasn't there and eventually led him in a different 'emergent order' direction. He was also quite clear that he didn't want 'Hayekians' doing to him what Keynesians did to Keynes.

He pointed out late in life that it was the followers who tended to screw up the messages that the get assigned to the original author as if they were the original ideas. We can see this with Adam Smith and other early liberals and Hayek pointed it out to anyone who cares to read his later material. At the risk of sounding like a Hayekian, one must read his work relative to Popper's perspective regarding objective knowledge for it to make sense.

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Reading Hayek relative to Von Mises is the typical approach, but I don't think it works as well. Popper was a better mirror of Hayek's open society philosophy. As I recall, Mr. Brin had this same conversation before, with equally disingenuous misreadings of Adam Smith involved. Adam Smith was closer to Marx than Mises. The "liberals" can have Smith! Rothbard wrote a scathing critique of Rand, calling her a cult leader. Rothbard was an anarchist, the Kochs are and Rand was a statist. Given those facts alone, what Brin writes here is drivel.

If Hayek was an empiricist that makes him even more unlike "Austrians" Never mind that back in the 30s nobody except Hayek would have considered his views a serious rival to those of Keynes; the real shock should be, what happened to Friedman? Government intervention meant mercantilist kings trying to hoard gold and silver to pay for wars, often via arbitrary monopolies. A world of democratic welfare states with working fiat currencies is multiply beyond his imagination.

Insights on competitive not 'free' markets, yes, but little to say about macro.

The paradox of thrift, the fallacy of composition, these thoughts post-date him. And what of the abundant evidence that austerity policies depress the economy? I see one thing that would boost the returns to labor: full employment, and thus competition for workers.


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  • Brin reminds me of Chomsky. Scathing critiques of the free market because it ISN'T a free market, but rather a game legally rigged by the state to benefit certain corporations. This is actually the straightforward laissez-faire position, but because they like the idea of being "radical" it is presented as "heretical" or in Chomsky's case, socialism itself.

    But really, how hard is it to understand? A market must consist of many buyers and many sellers, or it's no market Thus corporate accounting is simplified there's little argument about gross receipts and smaller corps now have a business advantage! The invisible hand promotes competition and preservation of true markets!

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    Article has moby spam comments, BTW This was the point of the Progressive Movement years ago, creating anti-trust laws that shattered the then-looming Gilded Age oligarchy and restored competition to American markets. What is the null hypothesis? So, how's that corporate election-rigging going so far this year? Post a Comment. Monday, November 11, Liberals, you must reclaim Adam Smith. Many of our modern struggles -- in the U.

    A forecast of stunning accuracy. Adam Smith's ideal was a market comprised of small buyers and sellers. He showed how the workings of such a market would tend toward a price that provides a fair return to land, labor, and capital, produce a satisfactory outcome for both buyers and sellers, and result in an optimal outcome for society in terms of the allocation of its resources.

    Such a market implicitly assumes a significant degree of equality in the distribution of economic power—another widely neglected point.