No book has done more to instruct, enlighten, and inform conservatives about economics that Adam Smith’s undisputed classic, “The Wealth of Nations”. Published in 1776, it was the intellectual counterpart of the volleys fired at Lexington and Concord – a stirring cry for economic freedom that resonates to this day. It is the very basis for the thoughts of contemporary conservative economists like Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell.
Here is the third volume of the Conservative Book Club’s Conservative Leadership Series – the rarely seen, complete and unabridged The Wealth of Nations in one volume, with the classic, long-missing Ludwig von Mises introduction.
Why Read Adam Smith Today?? The real question of course, is how can we afford not to.
The wisdom of Adam Smith . . .
On how the world works: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”
On the proper value of things: “The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.”
On the free market: “Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest in his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man. . . .”
On property: “The property which every man has in his own labor, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable.”
On the “invisible hand”: “[H]e intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand, to promote and end which was no part of his intention. . . . By pursuing his own interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.”
On supply and demand: “The market price of every particular commodity is regulated by the proportion between the quantity which is actually brought to market, and the demand. . .”
On the natural order of freedom: “Without any intervention of law. . . the private interests and passions of men naturally lead them to divide. . . all the different employments. . . as nearly as possible in the proportion which is most agreeable to the interests of the whole society.”
On the perils of government: “There is no art of which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money form the pockets of people.”
The celebrated British historian Henry Buckle said of Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations, “[T]his solitary Scotchman has, by the publication of this one single work, contributed more toward the happiness of man than has been effected by the united abilities of all the statesmen and legislators of whom history has presented an authentic record.” And the British constitutional scholar Walter Bagehot said of The Wealth of Nations, “The life of almost everyone in England – perhaps of everyone – is different and better in consequence of it.”
Few books merit such praise. As Ludwig von Mises says, “A work that has been praised in such a way by eminent authors must not be left on the shelves of libraries for the perusal of specialists and historians only.” Now thanks to the Conservative Book Club’s Conservative Leadership edition. Adam Smith’s most powerful work can be yours to read and ponder, and to share with your children and grandchildren.