Brad DeLong defends Adam Smith

My favorite part:

In The Wealth of Nations, at least, Smith believes that he has
an extraordinarily penetrating and largely new insight: that the market
economy–the "system of natural liberty," he calls it–as an immensely
powerful and benevolent social mechanism for promoting general
prosperity. This is, Smith believes, cause for a revolution in how we
should think about Political Oeconomy. The power and benevolence of the
market is not the only important consideration to take into account in
thinking about questions of Political Oeconomy, but it is the most
important consideration–as important, relatively speaking, as is the
gravity of the sun in calculating the motions of the planets. Just as
you cannot ignore the influence of Jupiter or even the Earth when
calculating the orbit of Mars, so you cannot ignore considerations of
civic humanism or employer collusion or monopoly in thinking about
Political Oeconomy. But to not give pride of place to Smith’s love of
the "system of natural liberty" is to be false to Smith’s thought. And
the guy deserves more respect than that.

Read more here.


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