Home > Uncategorized > Adam Smith’s bad history leads to bad economics

Adam Smith’s bad history leads to bad economics

from Asad Zaman

Guest Post by Donni Wang [author details at bottom of post]. Republished from The Economic Historian blog: “No Go from the Get Go: Adam Smith’s Bad History, Lessons from Ancient Greece, and the Need to Subsume Economics” – She is a historian, and argues here that a false history which portrays progression and progress actually seals off alternatives and choices which we could, and indeed need to, make today. Correcting Adam Smith’s views about history of mankind, using lessons from Ancient Greece, thus creates new possibilities for us today.

WORLDVIEWS THAT gain traction tend to be comprehensive in nature. They account for a wide range of phenomena that define the human condition, one of which being the changes that occur to society over time. This is true also for capitalism as an extensive body of thought. Although there is much emphasis placed on the modern epoch that features the rise of the industrial nation in the West, the weltanschauung of capitalism does supply a neat story of human development that extends back to earlier periods.

The obvious source for this narrative is to be found in the writing of Adam Smith.  Having been rightly credited as the father of capitalism, Smith has contributed much to the overall coherence of the market system by reinforcing it with a supportive philosophical foundation. In fact, his narrative of the past, which is still being circulated in contemporary textbooks and popular discourse, has not only rationalized the ascent of market forces in 18th century Europe, it also validated the major assumptions that undergird orthodox economic thinking today.

The historical account proffered by Smith, however, does not hold up even to the most basic test. read more

  1. Mike Ryan
    March 16, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Adam Smith shouldn’t shoulder the entire blame. Think about his sponsor Lord Kames. Fast forward to the 1900’s and think about Rockefeller. Rockefeller, like Kames, needed philosophers to sooth his guilt so he sponsored the University of Chicago. From his investment he bought Samuelson, Friedman and many other philosophers to paint idiotic pictures to hide greed and show how the economy doesn’t work. All of this is meant to elevate the rich to god like status and suppress the rest of society.

    As an example – in ten minutes you can learn how Samuelson lied to the world about marginal costs.

    • Craig
      March 16, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      Good exposition. Only problem, it isn’t paradigmatic thinking which isolates the single new concept that creates an entirely new pattern.

      We don’t really need any more critique or iconoclasm, the old pattern has been shattered and invalidated, we need to look for and find the new pattern.

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