Adam Smith Lectures

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Adam Smith Lectures- 1 -Frederick Weil February 1999
Adam Smith - Lecture 1 The Character of Market Society
Smith makes a number of claims about the “natural” state of things: “human nature,” “natural” prices or rates of wages, rent, and profit, “natural” character of the market and market society. In this lecture, I explore the picture of market society he gives, mainly in Book I of the Wealth of Nations. In this and the following lectures, we will see how Smith contradicts most of his basic assertions about the “naturalness” of these things. Benefits of Market Society -Increase of productivity through division of labor (WN 13ff) -Affluence of all (WN 22) -Reduction of class differences (WN 24) Assumptions

-Equality, but diversity (WN 28f). Accepts analysis of Hobbes; says differences arise in upbringing. Will have to ask, then, why different classes have different outlooks. Will answer, in part, due to material conditions (classes per se), and in part due to different values (esp comparing ruling groups). -Self-interest; tendency to barter leads to harmony (WN 25f). Like Hobbes, does not argue from altruism, but also does not ascribe deadly competition here. Will have to ask later whether Smith sees this under all conditions or whether he wants this as a result of market society. I.e., is it really part of human nature, or does it stem from social conditions? -NB: propensity to barter and division of labor are limited by extent of market (WN 31). Characteristics and inner dynamics (WN 44-8, 72f) -“Natural” and market prices; value. -Higgling, entering and leaving market, supply and demand. Adam Smith Lectures- 2 -Frederick Weil February 1999

Classes and class conflict -Component parts of price: wages, profits, rent. (WN 65f) -Principles which regulate each: *supply of labor (WN 86, 85) *accumulation of capital (WN 73, 84f) *appropriation of land (WN 160, 67) -Reasons for conflict of interests: question of subsistence of individual workers and “race” of workers. (WN 83f) -Private and public interests. Interests of classes and interests of society; and who knows self-interest (WN 265f). *NB that capitalism is in public interest, but interests of capitalists against public interest. Preconditions in abstract

-Appropriation of land and accumulation of stock (WN 82f). Before that, labor was only measure of value (cf. Locke); later profit and rent added. -Also NB limitations due to restrictions, “policy of Europe” (WN 135f): restrictions on competition and free market. General disabilities and dysfunctions -mortality (cf. Malthus) (WN 96f) -conspiracy to raise prices (WN 145) Developmental Observations -NB effect of growth on wages, profits, and how it makes for conflict of interests. -Stagnation hurts workers most; helps employers. Adam Smith Lectures- 3 -Frederick Weil February 1999

-In new colonies, everyone benefits. (WN 109) Question: is “naturalness” believable? What about power, etc? Adam Smith Lectures- 4 -Frederick Weil February 1999
Adam Smith - Lecture 2
“Appropriation and Accumulation:” The Historical Development of Market Society Account “framed” by arguments re/”natural” development -The “natural” development is similar to that in Book I *Peaceful commerce between town and country

*“Natural” preference for enterprise closer to home: agriculture, manufacture, foreign trade -But the historical development was inverted: the “natural” order is reversed *(account is sociological, not abstract) -Question is how and why this “natural” order was inverted The answer is that the development was at base a struggle for power, not mutual self-interest on the market: a picture of class analysis -The development account is sociological, not abstract: structural principles, alliances, struggle for power -Almost dialectical unintended consequences Historical account -Opens with a picture like that of a state of nature: the European Roman Empire after the barbarian invasions (WN 381)...
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