Summary of “We should look closely at what Adam Smith actually believed”

If you’ve heard of one economist, it’s likely to be Adam Smith.
His professional identity was firmly that of a philosopher – not least because the discipline of ‘economics’ didn’t emerge until the 19th century, by which time Smith was long dead. Admittedly, Smith’s reputation as an economist isn’t entirely mysterious.
For while Smith might be publicly lauded by those who put their faith in private capitalist enterprise, and who decry the state as the chief threat to liberty and prosperity, the real Adam Smith painted a rather different picture.
According to Smith, the most pressing dangers came not from the state acting alone, but the state when captured by merchant elites.
Even worse than this, Smith thought, the merchants were the source of what his friend, the philosopher and historian David Hume, had called ‘jealousy of trade’.
Under absolutely no circumstances, Smith thought, should merchants be put in charge of politics.
Political actors, Smith claimed, were liable to be swept up by a ‘spirit of system’, which made them fall in love with abstract plans, which they hoped would introduce sweeping beneficial reform.
It is time that we listened, a little more carefully, to what the real Adam Smith had to say.

The orginal article.