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From Altruism to Wittgenstein, philosophers, theories and key themes. Historical themes, events and key individuals from Akhenaten to Xenophon. This episode is related to Classical liberalism. This episode is related to Political philosophy literature. Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

What Drives the Wealth of Nations?

Download the best of Radio 3's Free Thinking programme. Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas. In Our Time. Main content.

Listen now. Show more. Show less. Available now 43 minutes. Last on. Thu 19 Feb BBC Radio 4. More episodes Previous. The Photon. The Eunuch. Related topics. Classical liberalism 3 books 2 Books about capitalism 2 Political philosophy literature 2. Hooray for the Invisible Hand! If you look carefully at the cover of the handsome edition that I possess, you'll see that incorporeal extremity craftily incorporated into the pleasingly attractive rural design.

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View all 42 comments. Apr 17, Scott rated it it was amazing Shelves: economics. Even if you've heard the explanation of the "invisible hand" a thousand times, there is something magical about reading the actual words by the father himself: "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. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.

Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.

View all 7 comments. First published in , the book offers one of the world's first collected descriptions of what builds nations' wealth, and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.

Apr 19, Richard Fulgham rated it did not like it Recommends it for: swine, hyenas and robber barons.


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In fact, greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Christian theology. All these religions say greed is wrong. All these religions say you should not gather wealth at the expense of your neighbors. But this man Adam Smith says it is OK to do whatever is necessary to obtain wealth. Adam Smith says it is a good thing to allow your instinct toward selfishness to rule your life. He calls it Capitalism. And it works for a century or so before the robbed and disenfranchised revolt and kill off the greedy ones who rule society to their benefit.

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Greed is the basis and essence of Capitalism, especially US Capitalism, in which every individual is guaranteed the "right to pursue happiness". Has anyone EVER questioned that? Why is more important to be happy than to know where you fit into the Grand Scheme? Why is more important to make money than to find and free your spirit? Look at any wealthy person who gained his or her wealth through competiton -do they have a healthy or unhealthy spirit?

In turning greed to virtue, Adam Smith has created an economic system that more accurately has been called "Social Darwinism". In other words, according to Smith, it is perfectly natural for the meanest, strongest, most clever individuals to gobble up so much capital that the great majority of people are left with crumbs. The weakest of us "deserve" to be poor, according to Smith.

Capitalism therefore is a sin, not an acceptable economic system. So long as there exists a middle class nothing catastrophic should happen to the society embracing this sin. But right now the middleclass is disappearing in the USA as it has in all empires , leaving only the few monsters at the top and everyone else in poverty.


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  5. Forgive me for reading and for using my mind to agree or disagree with the author. I know most of you are capitalist because you are citizens of the USA.

    100 best nonfiction books: No 84 – The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)

    I am frankly a disciple of Diogenes and believe we should all be free and enjoy life -- there is plenty to go around without getting into a harness and working yourself to death. Let's face it, communism would have worked if they'd killed off the hogs as they rose to power.

    There are always hogs in society -- it is the duty of society to keep them chained or jailed. Adam Smith, to a real Christian, is Satan personified. How devious and clever to claim a sin is a virtue. I recommend reading this admittedly fascinating book because it is an explanation of why Rome, Great Britian, the Ottoman Empire, et al, in the end collapsed because of greed made a virtue.

    The Real Adam Smith: Ideas That Changed The World - Full Video

    Adam Smith eloquently and wittily pretends to be a friend to the common person. So does "Das Kapital" and "Mein Kampf". I personally am not a communist, socialist nor capitalist. I'm absolutely a nobody and you can take that to your corrupt bank. I revel in the freedom of my mind! I am an old graybeard and have read a thousand books --I was cast out of the 20th Century for chastising lesser minds, indifferent minds.

    I have been driven mad -- but in that madness there has come a clarity. It is so bright and wonderful that I can see clearly what I could not see before.

    Adam Smith and "The Wealth of Nations"

    I hope this will attract bitter diatribes Webster: bitter and abusive writings against me and my blanket condemnation of Adam Smith's dangerous book. That will mean that my words here have been read and considered. Is that too much to ask in this dispassionate world? View all 31 comments. One of the hardest books I have ever read - I feel overwhelmed as far as the concepts - so I will just make a general comment: If you want to understand the foundational concepts of economic policy and have the perspective of a true genius then this book is for you.

    It is SCARY how many situations Adam Smith predicted - and it is sad how little things have changed as far as the wealthy and the poor. If you read this book and Das Capital I would argue that you will be able to hold your own as far One of the hardest books I have ever read - I feel overwhelmed as far as the concepts - so I will just make a general comment: If you want to understand the foundational concepts of economic policy and have the perspective of a true genius then this book is for you.