The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith got it right way back in 1776. Just now Nassim Taleb, with his new book Antifragile, seems to be discovering anew just how prescient Smith’s ideas were and still are. My friend back in the 80s, Pamela McCorduck, had it right also, as you can see in her video. I haven’t been totally remiss about my debt to Smith, and I visited his grave when in Edinburgh.
Adam Smith was a primogenitor of Darwinism, as well as functional evolution-driven economic theory. Karl Marx‘s books Capital and The Communist Manifesto were efforts to go beyond the seemingly cold Invisible Hand of Adam Smith, but unfortunately Mark’s optimistic theories didn’t work out well in application, and tens of millions of people died as a result of what seemed to be misapplication of his hopeful ideas. Perhaps Marxist’s approach to human behavior is impossible to apply for reasons which we can’t fully comprehend, and Smith’s free market system gives better results. It is now 236 years (2012 —1776) since Smith published, and even with all of that experience it seems that governments and people in general can’t help but try to close the gap on the chaos (as described by McCorduck and Taleb) of the marketplace and replace it with a rational system which seems to make more sense. Living in chaos, in between randomness and rigidity as described by Smith, creates the most adaptive and thus most productive living force and that force is maximized by encouraging the processes of natural selection to work their benefits.
Adam Smith was the most important person in history. Gasp?