Adam Smith looked backwards to what caused Britain to be in the shape it was in, and seldom looked forwards to what was likely to happen. One exception to this lifetime record, was his ‘prediction’ that the American former colonies would be the world’s largest economy, and, if Britain and the colonies had joined together in 1776 into a representative parliament, then located in London, the government would move its location to New York by the late 1880s...
On the evidence I find that Adam Smith was not aware, nor could be (nobody else was!), about what ‘the industrial revolution’ meant ‘for human possibilities and the human destiny’ in 1776. Karl Marx in the mid-19th century was able to examine and report his view of what ‘the industrial revolution’ meant ‘for human possibilities and the human destiny’ in detail from, among other sources, Parliamentary papers, articles, and official reports by the box load.
Economists Require Help in Understanding the Evolution of Value
from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy
In the introduction to my ‘Adam Smith: a moral philosopher and his political economy’ (Palgrave Macmillan, in press for July 2008), I include this observation about the state of modern economics:
“Adam Smith was much more than the contents of the five books of Wealth Of Nations, significant and profound as they are; he composed an integrated theory of society, recognisable today by anthropologists, sociologists, evolutionary psychologists, linguists, historians and philosophers, who are not normally avid readers of economics. If economists abandon large swathes of territory on what are regarded as distant and unrewarding frontiers of our discipline, we ought not to be surprised if they become peopled by migrants from other disciplines, who bring not just their energies but also their insights, and a willingness to incorporate into their own frontiers what economists neglect and leave fallow. It has been ever thus with declining ‘empires’.”
Morning Coffee: Free vs. Fair Trade Fourth, to the extent that we in the United States begin thinking of trade restrictions as a way to fight inequality, we are setting ourselves up for extraordinary trouble late in this century--extraordinary damage to our long-run national security.
Think of it this way: Consider a world that contains one country that is a true superpower. It is preeminent--economically, technologically, politically, culturally, and militarily. But it lies at the east edge of a vast ocean. And across the ocean is another country--a country with more resources in the long-run, a country that looks likely to in the end supplant the current superpower. What should the superpower's long-run national security strategy be?
I think the answer is clear: if possible, the current superpower should embrace its possible successor. It should bind it as closely as possible with ties of blood, commerce, and culture--so that should the emerging superpower come to its full strength, it will to as great an extent possible share the world view of and regard itself as part of the same civilization as its predecessor: Romans to their Greeks.
In 1877, the rising superpower to the west across the ocean was the United States. The preeminent superpower was Britain. Today the preeminent superpower is the United States. The rising superpower to the west across the ocean is China. that was the rising superpower across the ocean to the west of the world's industrial and military leader. Today it is China.
Throughout the twentieth century it has been greatly to Britain's economic benefit that America has regarded it as a trading partner--a source of opportunities--rather than a politico-military-industrial competitor to be isolated and squashed. And in 1917 and again in 1941 it was to Britain's immeasurable benefit--its veruy soul was on the line--that America regarded it as a friend and an ally rather than as a competitor and an enemy. A world run by those whom de Gaulle called les Anglo-Saxons is a much more comfortable world for Britain than the other possibility--the world in which Europe were run by Adolf Hitler's Saxon-Saxons.
There is a good chance that China is now on the same path to world preeminence that America walked 130 years ago. Come 2047 and again in 2071 and in the years after 2075, America is going to need China. There is nothing more dangerous for America's future national security, nothing more destructive to America's future prosperity, than for Chinese schoolchildren to be taught in 2047 and 2071 and in the years after 2075 that America tried to keep the Chinese as poor as possible for as long as possible.
And let me stop there. Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Economist Brad DeLong's Fair, Balanced, and Reality-Based Semi-Daily Journal