I was once described as a "beautiful, intelligent iguana".
Recall here what Smith was trying to do when he wrote THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. Above all, the book was an attempt to establish the newfound discipline of economics as a science. This mean that not only did economics have its own peculiar domain of study - what we now call “the economy,” though the idea that there even was something called an “economy” was nvery new in Smith’s day - but that this economy operated according to laws of much the same sort as Sir Isaac Newton had so recently identified as governing the physical world. Newton had represented God as a cosmic watchmaker who had created the physical machinery of the universe in such a way that it would operate for the ultimate benefit of humans, and then let it run on its own. Smith was trying to make a similar, Newtonian argument. God - or Divine Providence -, as he put it - had arranged matters in such a way that our pursuit of self-interest would nonetheless, given an unfettered market, bu guided “as if by an invisible hand” to promote the general welfare. Smith’s famous invisible hand was, as he says in his THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS, the agent of Divine Providence. It was literally the hand of God.
David Graeber Debt: The first 5,000 Years
THIS IS AMAZING and totally up my alley as per my interest in the intersections of metaphysics and economics. I wrote about the fight between Proudhon and Marx last winter (which I felt like reading again tonight any1want to publish eet?) as dealing with a whole bunch of the same issues, but in terms of idealism vs. materialism.
I also just read in the footnotes that Smith MIGHT have been influenced by medieval Islam and I have a feeling that this particular strain Graeber is referring to is the occasionalist one. Occasionalism is basically just the thesis that no two objects touch without God providing the medium of their touching (obvs more complicated than this). God then is a kind of ontological relation machine. This has some very interesting links with what Harman calls Latour’s “secular occasionalism” and Whitehead’s process philosophy, which is very occasionalist.
Anyways: Was Adam Smith Medeval Islam’s Mugatu? A lame white guy appropriating / decontextualizing stuff to sell to other boring white people???
This is interesting from another context too. We were talking about in my complexity class how the classical model of economics was built off a lot of shaky analogies with “recently” founded newtonian physics. The problem is, as physics has developed past purely netownian mechanics, the analogies that propped up classical economics haven’t necessarily changed.
We had to read an article that was arguing against economic models that have “rational actors” and “competition” as their central notions. It was pretty damn interesting.
[But this (possible) link between medieval occasionalism and classical economics is SO COOL.]
Every time I do economics homework I just remember that Marx figured out in the 1800s that all of my work is just a way to oppress the proletariat.
Every time I find an equilibrium, I find a way for the bourgeoisie to appropriate surplus value from labor.
ummmm it’s a little more complicated than that. basically marx was saying that the point of what he calls “bourgeoise economics” is deriving laws about how capitalism works and conflating them with descriptive statements of Fundamental Laws of Reality and How The World Actually Works instead of just how the world works under capitalism
I sometimes feel like libertarians-and-stoya is just a fantastic troll, created to turn logicallypositive slowly away from Libertarianism.