Adam Smith Reveals His (Invisible) Hand!

Today is the anniversary of the publication of Adam Smith’s most famous work,  ”The Wealth of Nations” (March 9, 1776).

To celebrate this important day, I’ve written an article for FEE on Dan Klein’s discovery about the “deliberate centrality” of the invisible hand in Smith’s work, and what it all means.  It will appear in print in the June issue of “The Freeman.”

For some time now, there’s been a controversy brewing about Adam Smith’s famous metaphor of the free market, “the invisible hand.”  Critics point out that it is used only once in each of Smith’s two major works, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” (1759) and “The Wealth of Nations” (1776).  Therefore, they conclude, this much touted symbol of free-market capitalism was in reality a marginal concept to Smith.

But now Daniel B. Klein (GMU) has made a fascinating discovery: the invisible hand is physically located in the dead center of the middle of both books.  Prof. Klein argues for deliberate centrality by Adam Smith — that the invisible hand doctrine of “the system of natural liberty” was central to his work.  Adam Smith has finally revealed his (invisible) hand!

On a personal note, March 9 is also the pub date of ”The Making of Modern Economics” (March 9, 2001).  It is not a coincidence.  Adam Smith is the heroic figure of the book.   It is now in its 2nd edition.  Last year it won the Choice Book Award for Outstanding Academic Title.  The book is available in hardback, paperback, Kindle, and audio book — and translated into five languages.

I’m happy to announce that Prof. Klein has accepted my invitation to participate in a debate at this year’s FreedomFest (July 14-16, Las Vegas), on the subject:  “Libertarian, Conservative, or Radical Egalitarian:  Will the Real Adam Smith Please Stand Up?” I hope you will join us for this annual event.