You are best served by serving your self- The life and times of Adam Smith.

Image by K R Ranjith (flickr)

Image copyright of K R Ranjith (flickr)

One of Economics’ strongest exports was the economist Adam Smith.

In his book “The Wealth of Nations” Smith made the seemingly paradoxical claim that if people follow their own self interest, this will have the remarkable effect of increasing the overall benefit to society. This seemingly simple principle unfortunately took Adam Smith 1,260 pages to say. (Unfortunately very few economists have ever learnt the art of being concise.)

Adam Smith has become synonymous with free market economics. However, people often forget this Scottish intellectual
was primarily a professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow University.

At any rate this contradictory yet accurate argument about the free market remains the centre of all major debates in economics.

Is unbridled free-market Capitalism really the best economic system?

Even the most ardent free market economist cannot ignore the fact capitalism creates inequality and if you just look around this inequality is painfully evident. Thus many economists came along to challenge the free market ideologies of Adam Smith.

This takes us to our next great economist- Karl Marx

6 Responses to “You are best served by serving your self- The life and times of Adam Smith.”

  1. Amrita Says:

    Hi !

    It’s really nice to know more about The great economist Adam Smith – father of modern economics and also a Scottish moral philosopher.

    With Regards

  2. Economics in Action » Blog Archive » Karl Marx – Economist or Revolutionary? Says:

    […] Blog: Economics in Action « You are best served by serving your self- The life and times of Adam Smith. […]

  3. Alex Harrison Says:

    I think that the views of Adam Smith that are now carried on at the Adam Smith Institute in London are in my opinion, perfectly valid. History has told us that whilst free market economics does indeed lead to inequality, it also tells us that communism leads to the same thing but it takes a different path to get there.

    When someone can combine the best of both ideologies, then we are in business!

  4. Grant Bodie Says:

    I used to study Economics a little, before i chose the strange career of IT Recruitment, and i truly believe a Free Market would be the economic system…however we are never going to see that happen and so it becomes an unattainable target which stops us from finding a more workable solution.

    The dream of a Free Market has created inequality but the arguments behind it are sound. The flaw is human nature and so we need to move on to something more pragmatic.

    Thoughts of a Recruiter!

  5. Sandy Says:

    The Wealth of Nations, while perplexing at times, is ultimately a very rewarding read and one which anyone interested in, or studying, economics should have on their book list.

  6. Charlene Buytendag Says:

    I am currently studying Economics and believe that Adam Smith had a point, but realistically the economy can not function without some form of government at the helm of decisions.

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