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"In years of scarcity the poor labour more, and really live better.”
April 7, 2012 3:54 PM   Subscribe

One thing the historical record makes abundantly clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery.
Yasha Levine's detailed review of historian Michael Perelman's The Invention of Capitalism.
posted by clarknova (35 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is insipid. Exiled as usual.

This is not a review, it is simply a bunch of quotes trying to shock the squares (or preach to the choir).

Remember, mention Adam Smith a lot in your diatribe! People know who he is, so it sounds like you know your shit. Don't bother quoting him though. Don't read any Wealth of Nations easier, everyone knows it's just a fairy tale told to justify capitalism, maaaaan.
posted by Snyder at 4:43 PM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm confused. Is this "statist" who desired "wage slavery" the same Adam Smith who decried the state's unequal treatment of organized labour versus organized capital, articulated one of the first arguments for progressive taxation and advocated state-subsidized education of the poor?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:00 PM on April 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


Yeah, there is something odd about this review. There's no evidence mentioned in it to suggest that Smith and Mill themselves were "closet-case statists," only that there were other dudes writing around the same time who were (totally overt, not-closeted) proponents of forced labor etc. He does get some nice gotcha quotes from Locke and Hume, but apparently those guys aren't the real enemy.

Maybe there's a better case against Smith in the book itself? In which case, why not quote it in the review?

Or maybe the real story is just "Smith and Mill weren't intellectually dishonest or anything. They were just idealists, and their awesome-sounding ideas about progress and freedom didn't really match up with how businessmen of their era were actually behaving." Which is cool — I would totally read a book based on that story, and I think we really need more writing on the far left that acknowledges that "capitalism" or "liberalism" aren't monolithic ideologies — but if that is the story then why not just say so?

Or maybe the book is just as sloppy? Either way, it seems like the review is sort of damning it with incoherent praise.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:26 PM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can anyone find some alternative book reviews of this book? I'm curious.

And gosh, this Perelman writes a lot of books with terribly embarrassing titles. He must imagine himself quite the world shaker. Yet, somehow has not studied world shakers well enough to recognize that they all name their books dry unfashionable titles. Titles that better weather history, titles that never feel sticky with ejaculate of last night's zeitgeist. Elements, Capital, On War, Political Parties, Works, Syntactic Structures, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, you know, good old fashioned titles, titles that tell you just enough to know that what you are holding in your hand is a book.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:27 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


And not a pamphlet.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


“Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society…It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.”

So, so timely, isn't it?

The review doesn't link the process directly to support from Adam Smith, but the idea that modern capitalism was created in England by the expropriation of land from peasants and the forced creation of a new labor class by an aggressively statist assault on poor people's basic rights is something that still surprises a lot of folks, so any attempt to remind us of it is ok by me.
posted by mediareport at 5:38 PM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


And gosh, this Perelman writes a lot of books with terribly embarrassing titles.

Huh? This seems like a silly complaint. Even if it matters, his titles would fit right in with ... well, Chomsky's, let's say, who's a guy with a similar political alignment and presumably a similar audience. Granted, nobody's going to call Chomsky "modest," but I don't think he's exactly making an ass of himself out there.

The review doesn't link the process directly to support from Adam Smith, but the idea that modern capitalism was created in England by the expropriation of land from peasants and the forced creation of a new labor class by an aggressively statist assault on poor people's basic rights is something that still surprises a lot of folks, so any attempt to remind us of it is ok by me.

Right, no, is this is a subject I'm really interested in and I'd love to see more good writing on it, whether or not Adam Smith ends up looking like a doofus at the end. The only thing is that there's something weird about framing this work as a critique of Smith if it's actually just a critique of some other guys who happened to quote him or vice versa. The review's definitely written a little bit like those right-wing tabloid articles you used to see when Clinton was president — you know, "So-and-so, who married Hillary Clinton's college roommate, is implicated in a business scandal and we all know what that means about Hillary nudge nudge" — and that sort of scrambling-for-dirt tone gives me the heebie-jeebies. But I can't tell if that's on the guy who wrote the review or the guy who wrote the original book.

posted by nebulawindphone at 5:50 PM on April 7, 2012


Snyder: "Remember, mention Adam Smith a lot in your diatribe! People know who he is, so it sounds like you know your shit."

"Who the hell is Adam Smith?"
posted by symbioid at 5:53 PM on April 7, 2012


Ellen Meiksins Wood is interesting on The Agrarian Origins of Capitalism, a shorter version of her longer work.
posted by Abiezer at 6:04 PM on April 7, 2012


The notion of a conspiracy or broad-range plan is ludicrous. The history of human organization is the story of exploitation, and Smith was merely writing at a time when the best way to get rich off the toil of others was changing and becoming more efficient.

Specialized industry produces greater wealth than serf-based agriculture, so it's only natural that the wealthy would want their serfs to become workers. It wasn't like feudalism came about because it was good for serfs. Landowners didn't give a shit about the little people as serfs, why would they care about self-determinism when more efficient avenues to fill their pockets opened up? These "Protocols of the Elders of Something I Find Distasteful" conspiracies that try to make unfortunate historical inevitabilities into Organized Evil are really tired.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:08 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


You're not making any sense, Curley. On one hand, you say it's obvious that landowners deliberately screwed over peasants to maximize their own wealth and comfort, yet on the other you complain about people who call those same actions carefully thought out attacks on the poor. What are you even trying to say?

Oh, and the idea that the Game Laws, fencing of the commons, and planned destruction of the independence of many of the poor in England constituted nothing so much as some kind of "unfortunate historical inevitability" is completely laughable.
posted by mediareport at 6:28 PM on April 7, 2012


Out of curiosity, I tracked down that Arthur Young quotation at the head of the essay to its lair (it's in The Farmer's Tour through the East of England), and Young is not, in fact, arguing that we ought to keep the poor in poverty to order to make them "industrious." Young is ventriloquizing the position of the manufacturers in order to play them off his own pets, the landed/agricultural employers, as his very next paragraph makes quite clear. There's plenty to criticize elsewhere about Young's position, but Perelman and co. seem to have yanked the quotation completely out of context (in fact, the quotation has circulated so long by itself that I'm guessing nobody remembers what the context is).
posted by thomas j wise at 6:51 PM on April 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


On one hand, you say it's obvious that landowners deliberately screwed over peasants to maximize their own wealth and comfort, yet on the other you complain about people who call those same actions carefully thought out attacks on the poor.

There's a difference between "I want 'my' people to stop farming and start making shit for me," and "lets compare notes and figure out how to best fill our factories."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:08 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a willful misreading of texts; I mean, in particular that last quotation from Patrick Calquhoun, which quote is no paragon of intellectual brilliance, is twisted to mean something it clearly doesn't mean:

“Poverty is that state and condition in society where the individual has no surplus labour in store, or, in other words, no property or means of subsistence but what is derived from the constant exercise of industry in the various occupations of life. Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the lot of man. It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.”

In other words, poverty is good for the individual because it motivates the individual to become wealthy. Calquhoun is flatly not saying 'poverty is awesome because poor people exist to make us rich bastards wealthy!' He is deluded, but he is not evil; at least not in that way. His peculiar delusion is that the individual will not work to become wealthy unless that individual starts out poor.
posted by koeselitz at 7:19 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is a desire inherent in human minds to look for patterns, and behind patterns, an intelligent design. The more dramatic the event, the more intense the desire to find its individual architects, and of course the apparent beneficiaries of it are the first suspected of being its cause.

Individuals made decisions to enclose lands, to build factories, to lobby and bribe the nobility and Parliament to pass laws that benefitted those individuals. They conspired and collaborated. However, the process we are discussing took hundreds of years and was more driven by population increasethan by any other factor. The idea that anyone thought of the whole thing, at the beginning, and planned out a means to set it in motion (and it still continues today, so cannot be said to have reached a final state yet), is far less likely than the idea that individuals simply made, and continue to make, decisions that emotionally and economically appeal to them and appear to them to be in alignment with their individual goals. Recruiting allies and convincing others is one of the most important types of decision; however this is not the same as a grand secret conspiracy and historically such recruitment has (of necessity) been almost entirely overt.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:22 PM on April 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Writer who loves to quote-mine, for a web site that loves to quote-mine, posts quotes mined from a book written by an author who also (probably) loves to quote mine.

And a year from now, the people I met at Occupy events will think they know something about Adam Smith, because they read this crap.

So it goes.
posted by ocschwar at 7:23 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


One thing the historical record makes abundantly clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery.
Actually, from what heard I've Adam smith wasn't a laissez-faire capitalist at all. He thought government regulation was a good idea. On the other hand, I heard that in an interview on The Daily Show with a conservative pundit who said he assumed Adam Smith was a big fan of Ayn Rand style laissez-fare capitalism, then he read his actual books and realized he totally wasn't. Of course, it's possible he was totally wrong, I don't know.

The other thing: Adam Smith wasn't even an economist. He was a Moral Philosopher, his theories formed the basis for economics the same way the Natural Philosophy of Newton and his colleges formed the basis for modern science. Also, this is just what I heard. Not in the same thing but somewhere else, like a youtube video or something.

Marx (and other people) thought that Darwin was inspired by Smith when he came up with evolution.

I did a report on him in high-school once. All I remember is that I don't recall learning anything interesting. Just when he lived and died and stuff. He's called "conservative" but I don't know that he really has that much in common with today's republicans (but might with the British conservative party)
posted by delmoi at 8:10 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


TL;DR of the article:
Adam Smith was a terrible person. As evidence, here are some quotes by people who are not Adam Smith
Not that compelling. The quote from Rev. Joseph Townsend seems legit though.
posted by delmoi at 8:18 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other words, poverty is good for the individual because it motivates the individual to become wealthy. Calquhoun is flatly not saying 'poverty is awesome because poor people exist to make us rich bastards wealthy!' He is deluded, but he is not evil; at least not in that way. His peculiar delusion is that the individual will not work to become wealthy unless that individual starts out poor.
I disagree. To me, it seems like he's saying that poverty allows for the creation of wealth through labor. It looks to me that he is saying exactly what you claim he's not.
“Poverty is that state and condition in society where the individual has no surplus labour in store, or, in other words, no property or means of subsistence but what is derived from the constant exercise of industry in the various occupations of life. Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the lot of man. It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.”
I he's using the following logical premises:

1) Individuals have an amount of labor, which they store
2) Labor includes property and 'means of subsistence'

So, importantly he means wealth when he says labor. It sounds like he's saying that when you labor and make money, you store that labor as wealth. That obviously fits with the definition we normally use for wealth.

3) one means of subsistence is derived from "the constant exercise of industry in the various occupations of life." I.e. working

So we can simplify his first statement as simply stating "The definition of poverty is having no stored wealth, and you must work to live", which seems like a pretty reasonable definition.

Then he says: "Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization." That's his point.

The basic theory is:
4) people must survive
5) Without poverty, they would have stored labor
6) If everyone had stored labor, then no one would need to work: (" without poverty, there could be no labour;")
7) Labor creates wealth (I assume he means that the use of labor creates physical objects in which labor is physically associated)
8) Those physical objects provide "refinement, comfort, and benefit" to those "possessed of wealth"

Now, the flaw in his argument is the idea that people won't work if they don't need to work. That may have been true if you're talking about dickensian coal mine, but it doesn't seem that true today. Most of the intellectual work done today is roughly equivalent, in terms of effort, to what rich did for fun back in the day (such as scientific research, which mainly started as a hobby for the rich)

However, nothing in his statement has anything to do with 'individuals'. He is talking about wealth and poverty in a society, he says: "Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization."

What does he man by "civilization"? Well, it seems like point 8 was what he was going for: poverty allows people "possessed of wealth" "refinement, comfort, and benefit (of wealth)"

So yeah, I don't see anywhere in there that the person who is impoverished is also the person "possessed of wealth". His definition of poverty excludes them, because they have stored labor. They must be different people. All that matters is that they exist in the same society.
posted by delmoi at 9:01 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


delmoi: "Most of the intellectual work done today is roughly equivalent, in terms of effort, to what rich did for fun back in the day (such as scientific research, which mainly started as a hobby for the rich)"

I don't know about anyone else, but I do pretty much the same stuff I do for "work" as a hobby. The money serves to determine to whom the benefit of my labor accrues. My impression is that this particular condition isn't the case for most people but as I said, I don't know it to be true.

As far as that definition of poverty goes, I guess that means I'm alternately impoverished and not, depending on what time of the month you look. It seems lacking at best, at least in modern society.
posted by wierdo at 9:11 PM on April 7, 2012


I don't know about anyone else, but I do pretty much the same stuff I do for "work" as a hobby. The money serves to determine to whom the benefit of my labor accrues. My impression is that this particular condition isn't the case for most people but as I said, I don't know it to be true.

Yeah probably not for most people yet. But what I'm saying is, if your "job" and your "hobby" are similar in nature, then it probably wouldn't require the visceral experience of starvation to motivate you to do it. Work might be more stressful, or tedious, but the stress and tedium might be something you'd put up with just because you want a new car or a flatter TV - even if you knew you would never run out of food and shelter.

Increasingly the work that people would only do if the alternative meant starvation is done by machine. (So, rather then force poor people into dangerous coal mines where they can get black lung, we just blow up the whole fucking mountain and pick up the peaces with shovels the size of buildings
posted by delmoi at 10:07 PM on April 7, 2012


So, seriously, anyone, is the book any good? Is it terrible? Has anyone read it? The premise is interesting. I ordered it on my interlibrary loan. I will tell you all if it is any good when I finish it. But I kinda would like someone to warn me now not to waste my time or the time of innocent librarians. I have until Monday to cancel the order.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:20 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


TwelveTwo: I shan't link to it directly, as presumably it's not entirely legit, but libcom has the entire book up as a PDF. It shows up on https://www.google.co.uk/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=invention+of+capitalism for me.

Scanning through, most of it doesn't even seem that controversial--at least not to anyone who's read up on things like the enclosure act [+poor law amendment, and combination acts], the clearances, and the Irish potato famine (due in part to changing the land from growing to grazing) the sources quoted look interesting.

Whether his ultimate conclusions stand up, and whether he's bending the facts to his hypothesis would require more reading.

There's also another review there (google results) that's less of a cut and paste job.

I'd guess the title is an allusion to Theodore Allen's "The Invention of the White Race".
posted by titus-g at 1:57 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, having now read the other review mentioned, it's worth a link:
Drawing upon personal diaries, letters written to colleagues and newspapers, and lectures delivered to college classes, i.e., texts that are usually ignored by contemporary political economists, Perelman shows that all of the classical political economists -- yes, even Adam Smith -- believed in, lobbied for and directly benefited from English or French primitive accumulation. Drawing upon these same texts, Perelman is also able to suggest why Adam Smith worked so hard to avoid the subject in The Wealth of Nations. The history of primitive accumulation, especially in Ireland and Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries, proved that Smith was right when he told his students: "Laws and government may be considered in every case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise be soon destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence" (emphasis added). It just wouldn't do to discuss or even openly acknowledge the reality of primitive accumulation and the oppression of the poor by the rich, especially in a book such as The Wealth of Nations, which was written as much to curry favor amongst politicians, potential benefactors and Smith's peers, as it was to set forth a theory or methodology of modern economics. And so, Smith carefully followed the advice he himself had given his students ten years before The Wealth of Nations was published: if we desire to sway the opinion of sensitive or unsympathetic readers, "we are not to shock them by affirming what we are satisfied is [in fact] disagreeable, but are to conceal our design and beginning at a distance, bring them on to the main point and having gained the more remote ones we get the nearer ones of consequence."

Smith thus managed to avoid the fate of his fellow Scot, Sir James Steuart, who was imprudent enough to be completely honest. Ten years before Smith's book came out, Steuart published An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, which was not, as Perelman says, based "on the airy fiction of a [voluntary] social contract." It was instead based upon the frank recognition that ancient slave societies such as Sparta offered, in Steuart's own words, "the perfect plan of [modern] political economy." Because they forced people (the poor and the conquered) to produce for others as well as for themselves, slave societies suppressed what Steuart called "idleness" and "the laziness of the people," and thereby allowed the masters and rulers to eat and live luxuriously without doing any work of their own. Thus, Steuart argued, slave societies were able to become much wealthier, stronger and longer-lasting than free societies, in which the poor and the conquered are allowed to produce only as much food as they themselves need. But Steuart thought Sparta to be a "violent" and barbaric republic because it wasn't Christian: e.g., it allowed people to enslave other people. And so Steuart championed capitalism, a putatively enlightened form of slavery in which "men are [instead] forced to labor because they are slaves to their own wants," in particular, to their need for food. But Steuart wasn't willing to wait for plagues, famines or wars to make the British masses hungry enough to submit to capitalist slavery. It was in fact possible that these catastrophes wouldn't come or wouldn't be severe enough to do the job and in precisely the way desired. And so Sir James advocated that the state should forcibly evict the masses of rural peasants from the land, turn their farms into pastures, and thereby create the hunger, poverty and misery necessary to provide capitalism with sufficient numbers of people willing to submit themselves to wage labor. Though he wasn't the only writer of the time to be completely honest about the brutality of the invention of capitalism, Steuart's book was objected to, taken to task and then completely forgotten about. It struck a nerve, the very one Adam Smith tried to soothe.

This is a great story, this "secret history," but Perelman doesn't tell it very well, or, rather, he doesn't tell it nearly as well as it could have been told. It takes him six chapters (almost 140 pages) to set it up. When he finally gets around to telling the story, he puts Steuart first and Smith second. While this ordering is chronologically accurate, it's weak dramatically, especially since Perelman devotes a single chapter to Steuart and spends three chapters on Smith. If Smith is such a willful idiot, why dwell on him? Why not spend three chapters on Sir James, the one who is unjustly obscure and underappreciated? Furthermore, going from Steuart to Smith points the reader in the wrong direction, i.e., away from reality and towards propaganda. But going from Smith to Steuart points the reader in the right direction, i.e., away from the contemplation of the past and towards activism in the present.
posted by titus-g at 2:16 AM on April 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.”

Notice he says "those who may be Possessed of wealth, so not those who have "no property or means of subsistence but what is derived from the constant exercise of industry in the various occupations of life."

Possessed of a fortune worth £5000 per year, as Trollope would have said.
posted by marienbad at 4:24 AM on April 8, 2012


Actually, having now read the other review mentioned, it's worth a link:
Interesting. It's still not too damming about Smith, but it certainly makes his peers look bad. It sounds like smith knew what was going on, but didn't want to offend the people who mattered. Interesting.
Possessed of a fortune worth £5000 per year, as Trollope would have said.
Pretty sure £5000 was a hell of a lot of money in 1829. £5k in 1806 would be worth $609k today on the basis of the retail price index, $5m on the basis of average earnings and $9.2m on the basis of per capita GDP. (On the basis of this)

Also, found this kind of funny, I wanted to find the exact year of the quote, so I grabbed a random selection and pasted into google "condition in society where the individual has no". Except I forgot to add quotes (It comes up with this if you use quotes)

Anyway, check out the first result. (And the second result)
posted by delmoi at 4:41 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other fascinating thing is that these are the guys who founded the modern police system in the UK.
posted by delmoi at 4:41 AM on April 8, 2012


It's still not too damming about Smith...

Giovanni Arrighi, who's basically coming from the Marxist tradition has a major engagement with Smith's thought in Adam Smith in Beijing. Here's a bit from the intro:
The chapters of Part I lay down the theoretical underpinnings of the investigation. I begin by surveying the recent discovery of the significance of Adam Smith's theory of economic development for an understanding of Pomeranz's "Great Divergence." I then reconstruct Smith's theory and compare it with Marx's and Schumpeter's theories
of capitalist development. My main contentions in Part I are, first, that Smith was neither an advocate nor a theorist of capitalist development and, second, that his theory of markets as instruments of rule is especially relevant to an understanding of non-capitalist market economies, such as China was prior to its subordinate incorporation in the globalizing European system of states, and might well become again in the twenty-first century under totally different domestic and world-historical conditions.
His second chapter, 'The Historical Sociology of Adam Smith', sets out inter alia Arrighi's contentions that
Three myths in particular surround his legacy: that he was a theorist and advocate of "self-regulating" markets; that he was a theorist and advocate of capitalism as an engine of "endless" economic expansion; and that he was a theorist and advocate of the kind of division of labor that occurred in the pin factory described in the first chapter of The Wealth of Nations. In reality, he was none of the above.
I'll not do a disservice to the arguments by giving my half-baked version here, but would heartily recommend it.
posted by Abiezer at 5:27 AM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's another book that links Adam Smith to the French Enlightenment, and another that shows how Smith viewed himself as an Enlightenment philosopher more so than an economist. The fact that the review denounces Adam Smith without actually quoting or summarizing anything that Smith wrote or said gravely hurts its credibility.
posted by jonp72 at 8:58 AM on April 8, 2012


Order cancelled, although with some hesitation. The book sounds like a succulent quote harvest, but I am not really in the mood for damning. Instead, I'll be reading An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:17 AM on April 8, 2012


Marixst is Caremad about Class
Would make a better headline I think.

In related news:

Lumpenproletariat Unruffled by Accusations Capitalists Are Only In it To Make a Buck at Their Expense
posted by ethansr at 9:43 AM on April 8, 2012


I think you're making a mistake, TwelveTwo.
posted by mediareport at 9:44 AM on April 8, 2012


Then I will put in requests for BOTH.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:48 AM on April 8, 2012


Well, again, what I think is the most important point in this conversation is this: There is no dispute that a concerted effort to disenfranchise and abuse poor people created the new laboring class that was the basis of English capitalism. If anyone has any links to anyone who disputes that, I'd love to see them. A new book that purports to examine that history seems to me worth an interlibrary loan, at least.
posted by mediareport at 9:55 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This article just simply seems to restate Marx's theory of primitive accumulation. A theory which Marx covered in much more detail giving both evidence and naming names of the people involved. One of the people who wasn't involved in this, in my opinion and Marx's (I think), was Adam Smith. As far as I can tell Adam Smith's theories were altered to provide moral justification for what was going on in England at the time, just as Lenin and Stalin used socialism as the moral justification for their despotic system of government.

The other thing Marx seems to make clear before discussing this is that this kind of behavior is not one big conspiracy. But instead, the capitalist system itself drives ideological, legislative and technological changes (usually all geared towards the goal of reducing the cost of labour, a producers largest expense) because it strongly motivates all entrepreneurs to push these chaanthony punishing those that don't with loss of market share and eventual bankruptcy. This results in a lot of money being pushed towards pro-business reform in any way that may make it easier for producers to make money.

Disclaimer: I'm very much an amateur of Marx's theories and what I've said above is an incomplete explanation at best.
posted by Pseudology at 2:19 PM on April 10, 2012


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