Home > Uncategorized > “How Individualist Economics Are Causing Planetary Eco-Collapse”

“How Individualist Economics Are Causing Planetary Eco-Collapse”

A selection from the cover of Green Capitalism: The God That Failed. (Image: WEA Books)A selection from the cover of Green Capitalism: The God That Failed. (Image: WEA Books)

For some in the environmental movement, it has been tempting to believe that “innovation” and free market solutions could address the challenge of climate disruption. In his provocative and robustly argued book Green Capitalism: The God That Failed, Richard Smith shows why that idea is a myth. Click here to order this important book today with a donation to Truthout!

Click here for an abridged excerpt from the essay “How did the common good become a bad idea? The eco-suicidal economics of Adam Smith,” in Green Capitalism: The God That Failed.


  1. jlegge
    July 22, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    I have no idea why Adam Smith should be saddled with ideas that he repudiated or would have repudiated. I doubt whether he considered “growth” at all: national statistics weren’t collected until he had been dead 150 years. see: Kennedy, Gavin (2010) _Adam Smith_ for a recent account of where Smith really stood.

    Anyone who quotes Smith without reading Kennedy should be required to correct this omission before publishing another word.

    Smith enumerated a number of duties of the “sovereign”; had he been aware of the possibility of environmental degradation he would certainly have added protection of it to these duties. Market fundamentalists are the common enemy of humanity and the environment (as if there could be any long term distinction). Smith was not their patron.

  2. Alan
    July 22, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Obviously hasn’t read much Adam Smith based on the abridged excerpt. What both right and left economists have done to Smith is a disgrace. The whole discipline should be ashamed of itself.

  3. July 23, 2016 at 1:44 am

    My paper on  “Unregulated Markets and the Transformation of Society” Chapter 18, Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics: Nature and Society. Editor Clive Spash. 2016, cites this book, and relates the theme of ecological collapse to Polanyi’s Great Transformation, which dissolved the bonds between man and nature, and changed social norms to market norms. This lies at the root of the problems we face, and is extremely hard to reverse.

    • Alan
      July 23, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      Capitalism is a system where some people have wealth, while others have only their lives, which they must sell to survive in a market economy. How did this division occur initially? The capitalist myth, invented by Adam Smith, suggests that hard working people accumulated wealth, while the lazy ones did not.

      Apparently another Smith-abuser. Have you actually read Smith?

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