POLITICAL THEORY – Adam Smith


Adam Smith is our guide to perhaps the most
pressing dilemma of our time: how to make a capitalist economy more humane and more
meaningful. He was born in Scotland in Kirkcaldy – a
small manufacturing town – near Edinburgh in 1723. He was a hard working student and very close
to his mother. He then became an academic philosopher, wrote
a major book about the importance of sympathy and lectured on logic and aesthetics. He was also one of the greatest thinkers in
the history of economics – in part because his concerns went far beyond the economic.
He wanted to understand the money system because his underlying ambition was to make nations
and people happier. Smith remains an invaluable guide to four ideas: When one considers the modern world of work, two facts stand out:
– modern economies produce unprecedented amounts of wealth.
– many ordinary people find work rather boring and (a key complaint): meaning-less. The two phenomena are in fact intimately related,
as Adam Smith was the first to understand through his theory of specialisation. He observed that in modern businesses, tasks
formerly done by one person in a single day could far more profitably be split into many
tasks carried out by multiple people over whole careers. Smith hailed this as a momentous
development: he predicted that national economies would become hugely richer the more specialised
their workforces became. One sign our world is now so rich, Smith could
tell us, is that every time we meet a stranger, we’re unlikely to understand what they do.
The mania for incomprehensible job titles – Logistics Supply Manager, Packaging Coordinator,
Communications and Learning Officer – prove the economic logic of Smith’s insight. But there is one huge problem with specialisation:
meaning. When businesses are small and their processes contained, a sense of helping others
is readily available. But when everything is industrialised, one
ends up as a tiny cog in a gigantic machine whose overall logic is liable to be absent
from the minds of people lower down in the organisation. A company with 150,000 employees
distributed across four continents, making things that take five years from conception
to delivery, will struggle to maintain any sense of purpose and cohesion.
So Smith discerned that bosses of the specialised corporations of modernity therefore have an extra responsibility to their workers: to remind them of the purpose, role and ultimate
dignity of their labour. Smith’s age saw the development of what we’d now call consumer capitalism. Manufacturers began turning out luxury goods for a broadening middle class. Some commentators were appalled. The philosopher
Jean-Jacques Rousseau wished to ban ‘luxury’ from his native Geneva. He was a particular
fan of ancient Sparta and argued that his city should copy its austere, martial lifestyle. Disagreeing violently, Smith pointed out to
the Swiss philosopher that luxury consumerism in fact had a very serious role to play in
a good society – it generated the surplus wealth that allowed societies to look after
their weakest members. Consumer societies, despite their frivolity, didn’t let young
children and the old starve, for they could afford hospitals and poor relief. So Smith defended consumer capitalism on the
basis that it did more good for the poor than societies devoted to high ideals. That said,
Smith held out some fascinating hopes for the future of capitalism. He didn’t want
it to stay stuck at the frivolous level forever. He observed that humans have many ‘higher’
needs that currently lie outside of capitalist enterprise: among these, our need for education,
for self-understanding, for beautiful cities and for rewarding social lives. The hope for the future is that we’ll learn
to generate sizeable profits from helping people in truly important, ambitious ways.
Properly developed, capitalism shoudln’t just service our basic material needs while exciting
us to buy frivolous things. It should make money from goods and services that deliver
true fulfiflment. Then as now, the great question was how to get the rich to behave well towards the rest
of society. The Christian answer to this was: make them feel guilty. Meanwhile, the radical, left-wing answer was
then and is now: raise taxes. But Smith disagreed with both approaches: the hearts of the rich
were likely to remain cold and high taxes would simply lead the rich to flee the country. He proposed that, contrary to what one might
expect, it isn’t money the rich really care about. It is honour and respect. The rich
accumulate money not because they are materially greedy, but primarily in order to be liked
and approved of. So rather than taxing the rich, governments
should understand the vanity at the heart of the rich and their motivations. They should therefore give the rich plenty
of honour and status – in return for doing all the good things that these narcissists
wouldn’t normally bother with, like funding schools and hospitals and paying their workers
well. As Smith put it, “The great secret of education is
to direct vanity to proper objects.” Big corporations feel very evil to us now,
the natural targets of blame for low-paying jobs, environmental abuse and sickening ingredients. But Adam Smith knew there was an unexpected,
and more important, element responsible for these ills: our taste. It’s not companies
that primarily degrade the world. It is our appetites, which they merely serve. As a result, the reform of capitalism hinges
on an odd-sounding, but critical task: the education of the consumer. We need to be taught
to want better quality things and pay a proper price for them, one that reflects the true
burden on workers and the environment. A good capitalist society doesn’t just offer
customers choice, it also teaches people to exercise this choice in judicious ways. Capitalism
can, Smith suggests, be saved by elevating the quality of consumer demand. The economic state of the world can seem at once so wrong and yet so complicated, we end
up collapsing into despair and passivity. Adam Smith is on hand to lend us confidence
and hope. His work is full of ideas about how human values can be reconciled with the
needs of businesses. He deserves our ongoing attention because he was interested in an
issue that has become a leading priority of our own times: how to create an economy that
is at once profitable and civilised.

100 thoughts on “POLITICAL THEORY – Adam Smith

  1. The rich exploit the workers and we give them a medal of honour? Now i know why even the neoliberals of Chicago dislike Adam Smith so much. He was a asshole in every sense of this word.

  2. All ofthis sounded OK until the end. To say it is up to consumers to be educated begs to wonder why isn’t the model creating the best to be empoweered, to educate quality, in the first place? Why waste resourcxes to make shit? Why do we have a odel that even promotes it? And then you want to say it is up to comsumers?

    Why do people want to be called consumers? 

    http://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/BUX

  3. There is nothing wrong with today's capitalism. By the way, it is these ideas of Adam along with others that created today's civilised society. This is what led to modern capitalisma dnhe is a capitalist

  4. "properly developed" (capitalism should be the shit)… yeah right, like that happens in real world LOOL

  5. Sorry to burst your bubble Libertarians, Adam Smith was anything but that. he was pro equal competition and for that you have to have rule of law with teeth to prevent abuse and corruption. without rules of the road per say you have no peace and balance and another little but most important thing called Democracy. when you don't have democracy you are building on weak
    traunches, when it fails you will ultimately have full on brain drain, wealth fleeing, and human capital human potential fleeing as well, with the added component of massive violent effects or plain all out violent revolutions.

  6. I really dislike how fawning this series is over the philosophers in question. Not just in this video, but in almost all of them.

  7. Adam Smith's ideas about how to treat the rich could easily be applied to Donald Trump if the democratic establishment and mainstream media were smart. Trump is so vain and desperate to be liked all they would have to do is incentivize him to do what they want by showering him with public praise when he did something that was legitimately good. He is so dumb and has no actual ideas or principles, you could essentially manipulate him to do whatever you want by just playing to his ego. Of course, that would take actual political savvy and cunning, of which the Democrats seem to have none.

  8. Capitalism comes from observation to natural order of economic transactions.. it's hard to beat that.. rejecting it totally is like debating with our own gene about our biology, 😅

  9. Most people don't know that Adam Smith was caught up early on in the #metoo movement, when he was accused of groping his secretary. But he insisted it was just the invisible hand…

  10. Are Smith and Marx both on kinda the same page then? That there should be a life beyond pure consumerism that is beyond the basic toil of daily life?

  11. Well we've seen the working conditions of the workingclass in england.
    The rich won't do good things for the poor.
    We've seen it and as a result 20 Million die per year.

  12. He believed in order for the working class to remain happy and content where they are at they must rely on something that brings them happiness which is materialism and religion, he believed this will keep their minds distracted on the misery of laboring

  13. People actually believe we should worship the rich?😂 We are truly lost then. Macro capitalism is only good for 1 thing: creating monopolys. Only big fish win in pure capitalism.

  14. This has been out for four years, and we have people that think that socialism is great. Capitalism is way better.

  15. Adam Smith was a compassionate enlightenment
    thinker.  However, he was betrayed by the
    neoliberals.  According to Noam Chomsky,
    his work has been “grossly misinterpreted”. 
    Apparently, Adam Smith condemned the division of labor sharply but this
    information was “removed” from the origin text Wealth of Nations…

    “In the
    process of division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those
    how live by labour, that is, of the great body of people….The man whose whole
    life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which
    the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no
    occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out
    expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses,
    therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as
    it is possible for a human creature to become.”

    Thus, Smith despised the division of labor. 
    The US elites perniciously lied to us all and bastardized Smith’s
    legendary work to force us to accept neoliberalism (Washington Consensus).  Here is the proof:

     Smith. An
    Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Ed. R. H. Campbell
    and A. S. Skinner. 2 vols. Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of
    Adam Smith 2. Oxford U. Press, 1976.

    https://elpidiovaldes.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/4014/

    Chomsky’s Explosive Revalation….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmjfgfU-I1M

  16. Left wing: Tax the rich!
    Church: Guilt trip the rich!
    Adam Smith: Suck the rich cocks and give them medals.

    I personally don't think of Smith's idea seriously. It degenerates society and is often putting on the top of morality people that have no moral bone in their bodies.

  17. How can people make ”educated” choices when they consume if the wallet only allows the cheap stuff? It’s a privilege to consume only the “good” products.

  18. He basically thought through half of an inhuman system and proposed it without an ending. Capitalism is great in its infantcy and good in the mid term. Industry develops, people are educated, quality of life goes up, technology is advanced. But then what? Each individual company only has a responsibility to their own product or service, and only insofar as it makes money, not necessarily for the benefit of or in fairness to the citizens at large. Over decades they ultimately steal from the people in unfair labor, unfair wages, unfair cost of sale, and unlike the government we cannot vote them out. They horde the wealth and take over the government and it's essentially a neo capitalist totalitarian state henceforth. Without any purpose we all become cogs in one machine or another and become worse for it, then it infiltrates what should be protected government regulated institutions ( schools, hospitals, police, prison systems, even military and Senate) and what you end up with is a for profit country with people working 7 days a week to the detriment of society and themselves until some government reigns in the theft and restarts the economy.

  19. Kirkcaldy pronunciation- Kirk (as in Scottish for Church) Caw (as in "call" without the Ls) and Day
    The k and care kind of mashed together as one, the L is silent, and the A is pronounced like "awe".

    You'd think I'd have been taught about Adam Smith in School, given that I've grown up and lived in Kirkcaldy for over 26 years, but instead I was taught important things like 'if you're ever being chased by an alligator, run in a zig-zag pattern because they can't turn very well.'

  20. 0:54 I. Specialisation
    2:34 II. Consumer capitalism
    4:04 III. How to treat the rich
    5:08 IV. Educate consumers

  21. How to create an economy that is at once profitable and civilised… Hans-Hermann Hoppe does that pretty good actually!

  22. Adam Smith is often misunderstood, the "capitalistic nations" of today take only what they like of his ideology while ignoring that it's an ideology that should be accepted either in full or not at all

  23. capitalism would only work if all people are as intelligent as adam smith

  24. One of the most misunderstood and misrepresented philosophers in history. The man never used the the Word Capitalism. Capitalism is a leftist pejorative for the Free Market. The Free Market works quite well without leftist propaganda mucking it up with their ignorance of history and human nature. Look it up. Adam Smith is the father of The Free Market Economy, not Capitalism.

  25. Agreed with his ideology except the part of how to treat the rich… The rich ones tends to power abuse while gaining possession and reputation in most of the time…

  26. Number 4: how smith got that one wrong. Companies would do anything to control consumer buying habits. Educating consumers? He had a rather high regard for companies, which is misplaced.

  27. This dude had some great ideas! If you wanna learn more, we've summarized every chapter of The Wealth of Nations

  28. Adam Smith is truly one of the greatest philosophers and economists of all time. His ideas may have taken more lives out of poverty than anything else.

  29. Exactly, finally great content to consume on Youtube 🙂 keep it up thank you for this amazing videos.

  30. Adam Smith wanted to make Capitalism more humane, which means it wasn't humane from the beginning. Only a complete moron wouldn't expect the Capitalists to revert back to the original inhumane form of Capitalism eventually. Now our economy is part Capitalism and part Feudalism. Humans lack the morals and intelligence to make any kind of economic system work properly and humanly.

  31. Adam Smith sounds like an uncommon fool. Because there is no such thing as capitalism. Capitalism is a ruse.

    Capitalism is a fraud. Capitalism does not exist. Colonialism or slavery or genocide always precede "capitalism".

    Colonialism or slavery or genocide always kick-start "capitalism". Capitalists are nothing more than parasites.

    Capitalist always need a host. And without one no so-called "capitalist" exist.

  32. Good God… the financial capitalists of the world will want to silence this guy and anything he has to say…. Quick, get rid of him !!!

  33. Doing a Progressive Tax on (Just) the “Greedy Part” of Wealth & Conservatively Spending (Just it) on Social Programs gets us a “Stable Society” (the “True Creator” of All Wealth!!) AND we do it with “Direct Democracy” where WE Directly Propose, Enact & Enforce “Merit Based Standardized” Laws & “Money” isn’t a factor!! – "Like" this so we all See & Do this!!

  34. Η ματαιοδοξία ως παράγων προώθηση της ευημερίας των ανθρώπων. Θα το έλεγες ανόητο. Κολακεύοντας τους ισχυρούς κερδίζεις κι εσύ. Εκτός αν είσαι τόσο εξαθλιωμένος που η γνώμη σου είναι εντελώς αμελητέα για τον πλούσιο.
    Πάντως κολάκευε! Χαχαχα!

  35. Again as i expected you missed a very important idea of smith: private vices, public benefits.
    And his other important ideas like invisible hand or theory of moral sentiments
    Shame on you

  36. Share with tangible profits and benefitable people in the world even they are poor countries. The life is avablible with education

  37. Christianity is not preaching "guilt " against rich, quite opposite. It says that you must make best of your life and be prosperous but in same time to help each other and to the poor. New Testament says not be greedy over other people and to take advantage of them. Not to be evil , rather to succeed of your own work and to help the poorest.

  38. This will not be taught in our schools. Nothing good is
    allowed to be said of a capitalist. In fact, nothing good
    is allowed to be said of a Christian, a conservative, the
    white race, Western Culture, etc.
    Blacks for Trump!

  39. Your veiw on Christianity is wrong…. Read the story of the "talents" Matthew 25:14-30 (from the Bible – New Testament) .

  40. So basically capitalism is just a manipulation of our minds were tricked into desiring things we don't really need.

  41. Well Mr Smith aren't we so full of shit? The government shouldn't tax the rich but instead it should understand the key to their heart you say? Lol what a fucking fraud! I bet the few hundred dollars that I have in my account the rich paid you to make such an absurd statement. I would love not to be taxed but have IRS look into my heart instead lol. Besides Mr Smith you claim that companies aren't responsible for our taste and that their role is merely to serve that taste of ours? Well I beg to differ. Take a look at the ads we are bombarded with 24/7 and tell me if the companies only role is to fulfill our tastes. The truth is Mr Smith, showing a picture of a group of good looking, youngsters all smiling around the fire on the beach having the time of their lives then entailing the picture with a brand of cigarettes is clearly shaping the taste of people not serving it. How else can you explain the use of celebrities in advertisement? By that same flawed logic of yours Mr Smith drug cartels and prostitution rings should be allowed to operate freely for they only cater to the taste of people and not influence it. Mr Smith shut the fuck up!

  42. this video made me become a lot more interest in adam's work, his vision seems very different from what I supposed it was, looking forward to learn more about his studies.

  43. Adam Smith was an intellectual titan, though he is often misunderstood and misrepresented by his followers, as many great thinkers are, like John Maynard Keynes.

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