Being an avid reader of blogs and getting most of my news from the internet, rather than television, you sometimes just have to shake your head in amazement at how little Americans know about the logic behind just about…well…everything.
Lets take the concept of ‘capitalism’ that everyone so loves to banter around.
In a world of matrix’s, where ones political viewpoints seem to be a “weltanschaunng” (a German philosophical term that refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it) you could easily come to the conclusion that conservatives and or ‘the right’ are the defenders of all that is dear to those of us who respect capitalism as an economic system. Thus, liberals and or ‘the left’ are everything other than capitalists.
The reality is that Adam Smith, was for all practical purposes, the father of modern capitalism (Yes, I know, its hard to believe but he lived, died, and wrote about capitalism, long before Ayn Rand did). Adam Smith was, by all accounts a LIBERAL!
Yes, he did write compellingly about the invisible hand, markets, and the division of labor. But, he did title his book, “The Wealth of Nations,” thus the concept of free markets and limited government were not something he championed.
In fact, most conservatives would be shocked, but the whole justification for writing the textbook on capitalism was in reaction to the East India Company. It was the growth of the East India Company, (probably the first ‘too big to fail’ company in the history of the world” and the impact of corporations and mercantile interests on economies and governments. More specifically, the East India Company, whose stockholders were to be found on every level of government decision making in Great Britain and thought to be adversely effecting foreign policy and internal financial systems. Smith was also appalled at the exploitation under the reign of the East India Company, including the starvation of over 30 million people in modern-day Bangladesh due to British-imposed tariffs.
Smith saw the East India Company and other stockholding corporations as bending state policy towards the good of the few at the expense of the many. Smith to this end was in favor of heavy-handed government regulation to prevent financial and corporate powers from manipulating government policy for their own ends. This led him to conclude on the nefarious impulse of corporate manipulation, that when “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.”
The legacy of Smith continues to diverge further and further from the reality of Smiths principles which were heavily influenced by Rousseau and other humanist figures of the Enlightenment. Smith advocated for a system of progressive taxation and a political economy centered on the freedom of creative pursuits but protective of the working class. Considering how his legacy is enshrined today, it seems out of place to realize that Smith’s chief concern was for economic policy to be secondary to moral and ethical concerns such as economic equality, freedom of speech, and dignified and just labor conditions.
The reality is that liberals and liberalism are the true protectors of all that Adam Smith enshrined as Capitalism; liberals and liberalism represent the true ideals of capitalism.
Which probably explains why no one on the right cares to mention Adam Smith and rather attempt to keep the conversation on capitalism to nothing more than “moochers” and “producers” lingo and the whole time they are protesting “government interference” they in turn are raiding the treasury.