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Adam Smith and Capitalism

It's inaccurate to read Adam Smith as the "father of capitalism." Capitalism wasn't a thing yet. Wage-labor wasn't the norm. He was a defender of the emergence of industrialization and the division of labor. Marxism is just as much a logical outgrowth of many of Smith's doctrines as neoliberalism is.

Progressive income tax, land value tax, and universal public education (key points on the platform of the Communist Manifesto) would also have been supported by Smith. Adam Smith would certainly not have been a Marxist, because he was influenced by the proto-Hayekian ideas of Adam Fergesun and the conservative ideas of Edmund Burke. But his "Wealth of Nations" needs to be read (actually read, even the parts about how the division of labor is an alienating force that dumbs down the populace) alongside his "Theory of Moral Sentiments." Plus, Smith was critical of "The Fable of the Bees," a proto-Randian tract on the virtue of selfishness. He was critical of the enclosures and of rent-seeking.

And Adam Smith must also be put in historical context. Wage labor wasn't the norm, entreprenuers weren't a driving force, modern corporations didn't exist yet, the proletariat wasn't a thing yet and neither was its immiseration, the term "capitalism" hadn't yet been coined (and, by the way, it was coined by Ricardian socialists who were students of Adam Smith and used the term to describe a system they disliked, which they thought contradicted the principles of Adam Smith and David Ricardo). To speak of Adam Smith as a proponent of capitalism is not only anachronistic but also inaccurate.

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