Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 11, 2019

in Adam Smith, Crony Capitalism, The Economy, Trade

… is from page 316 of Dugald Stewart’s marvelous 1793 “Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, L.L.D.,” as this series of lectures appears at the end of Liberty Fund’s 1982 collection of Smith’s Essays on Philosophical Subjects (a collection originally published by Cadell and Davies, in London, 1795):

The state of society, however, which at first arose from a singular combination of accidents, has been prolonged much beyond its natural period, by a false system of political economy, propagated by merchants and manufacturers; a class of individuals, whose interest is not always the same with that of the public, and whose professional knowledge gave them many advantages, more particularly in the infancy of this branch of science, in defending those opinions which they wished to encourage. By means of this system a new set of obstacles to the progress of national prosperity has been created. Those which arose from the disorders of the feudal ages, tended directly to disturb the internal arrangements of society, by obstructing the free circulation of labour and of stock, from employment to employment, and from place to place. The false system of political economy, which has been hitherto prevalent, as its professed object has been to regulate the commercial intercourse between different nations, has produced its effect in a way less direct and less manifest, but equally prejudicial to the states that have adopted it.

On this system, as it took its rise from the prejudices or rather from the interested views of mercantile speculators, Mr. Smith bestows the title of the Commercial or Mercantile System….

DBx: Pictured above is Stewart.

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