As The Egregious Professor So Often Tells Us, Adam Smith Has No Relevance In This Modern Age

Commitment is to a person, family, friends, community, workplace, region, culture, religion, gender or identity, country, humanity, the planet. And I am aware I will have made omissions. Commitment is a message that others matter. Equally, it’s a sign that the commitment of others matters to us.

Writing this made me think about commitment. Almost without exception we humans know what it means. And again, almost without exception we have it. So I thought of plotting our commitment on a vertical, Y, axis.

I think it appropriate to allow for the opposite of commitment. I call that antipathy. Since few hate everyone I think we all start with positive commitment. But it can become negative

The horizontal, X, axis I use to plot remoteness. The resulting plot shows that as some groups are more remote from us we are as less committed to them.

Hmm.

Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all its myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of the world, would be affected upon receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity. He would, I imagine, first of all, express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people, he would make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated in a moment. He would too, perhaps, if he was a man of speculation, enter into many reasonings concerning the effects which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world in general. And when all this fine philosophy was over, when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take his repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tranquillity, as if no such accident had happened. The most frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger to-morrow, he would not sleep to-night; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own. To prevent, therefore, this paltry misfortune to himself, would a man of humanity be willing to sacrifice the lives of a hundred millions of his brethren, provided he had never seen them? Human nature startles with horror at the thought, and the world, in its greatest depravity and corruption, never produced such a villain as could be capable of entertaining it. But what makes this difference? When our passive feelings are almost always so sordid and so selfish, how comes it that our active principles should often be so generous and so noble? When we are always so much more deeply affected by whatever concerns ourselves, than by whatever concerns other men; what is it which prompts the generous, upon all occasions, and the mean upon many, to sacrifice their own interests to the greater interests of others? It is not the soft power of humanity, it is not that feeble spark of benevolence which Nature has lighted up in the human heart, that is thus capable of counteracting the strongest impulses of self-love. It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts itself upon such occasions. It is reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct.

Nope, no relevance at all that Smith guy.

29 comments on “As The Egregious Professor So Often Tells Us, Adam Smith Has No Relevance In This Modern Age

  1. Commitment – from a man who has an irish passport, whinges that he might have to fuck off to europe and has 2 failed marriages behind him (didnt i read that his last wife was seriously ill when he left her – i may be wrong)
    Thye only commitment he has is to his own ego and being a cunt

  2. The belief that you can have such original unique insights that no one has come up with before is the sign of a seriously deluded and egotistical arsehole

  3. BniC – every insight had to have someone come up with it once. In his case the only insights I can imagine him coming up with is ones that others don’t because they consider them wrong.

  4. “…would a man of humanity be willing to sacrifice the lives of a hundred millions of his brethren, provided he had never seen them? Human nature startles with horror at the thought, and the world, in its greatest depravity and corruption, never produced such a villain as could be capable of entertaining it.”

    Smith evidently couldn’t even conceive of the likes of Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin.

  5. Depends what he meant by men of humanity, Mr Phrastus. Men of humans, or humane men?

    And actually, his phrasing anticipated both objections.

  6. Just seen his graphs on commitment v remoteness on Murphy Richards.

    The man’s so vain he thinks he can create a new set of curves to equal supply v demand.

  7. BniC said:
    “The belief that you can have such original unique insights that no one has come up with before is the sign of a seriously deluded and egotistical arsehole”

    I’d always thought of it as a sign of his huge ignorance of intellectual life, that he has no idea that the things he comments on have been considered and examined before.

    But you’re right, there must also be an incredible arrogance there as well.

  8. Murphy is remote from me – but my antipathy to him is very high.

    Thus, candidly, proving his theory wrong.

  9. The man who can visit Dachau and think first of himself evinces an unusually strong commitment to Number One.

  10. Theophrastus – “Smith evidently couldn’t even conceive of the likes of Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin.”

    Or Planned Parenthood. We tolerate abortion up to the moment of birth – and as Gosnell showed even beyond it – because they are unseen except as body parts and make no sound.

    Would anyone’s support for abortion be as strong if they made a sound like that when you kick a tired puppy? I would like to think not.

  11. I think his blog would be easier to follow if he illustrated his points with one or more of his perspicacious Venn diagrams.

  12. “So Much For Subtlety

    Or Planned Parenthood. We tolerate abortion up to the moment of birth….”

    The statistics make for grim reading.

    In 2014 there were approximately 184,500 abortions and 695,250 live births. About 21% of pregnancies end in an abortion. And in 2015 around 70% of women seeking an abortion were married or in a relationship.

    There have been over 8,000,000 abortions in the UK since the 1961 Abortion Act. Was that what they expected?

  13. Theo

    ‘Smith evidently couldn’t even conceive of the likes of Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin’

    I doubt in his most indulgent flight of fancy Smith would have thought of Richard Murphy as anything other than the village idiot.

    Interesting to counterpose the two and see how debased much modern discourse has become. One wonders if they’ll be reading Murphy (unless required to by law) in 200 years time?

  14. “Almost without exception we humans know what [commitment] means… So I thought of plotting our commitment on a vertical, Y, axis…The horizontal, X, axis I use to plot remoteness.”

    In thinking that it is somehow appropriate to plot commitment on a graph, Murphy neatly shows that he is one of the ‘exceptions’.

  15. “I doubt in his most indulgent flight of fancy Smith would have thought of Richard Murphy as anything other than the village idiot.”

    LOL – Classic VP!

  16. EL

    “Depends what he meant by men of humanity, Mr Phrastus. Men of humans, or humane men?
    And actually, his phrasing anticipated both objections.”

    Smith says:
    “the world, in its greatest depravity and corruption, never produced such a villain as could be capable of entertaining it.”

    But the world has produced such villains. So Smith is wrong on this small point.

    If in the preceding sentences he was talking only of humane men, then he was merely stating a tautology there — ‘humane men behave humanely’.

  17. Hey, guys
    Napoleon didn’t kill anything like100 million. He won battles which only involved killing a share of the few percent of the population who could be equipped to fight.
    Killing 100 million? That sort of destruction is only contemplated by marxists and other genocides who want to wipe out civilians – Napoleon wanted to rule civilians (he introduced lots of legal refoms) not to wipe them out

  18. Adam S was doing a great job of excoriating the spud on the tariff thread but then along comes a Spud fan and I don’t know what to think. Is he serious? How can I tell?

    Schofield says:
    April 23 2018 at 8:15 pm
    Adam S

    “The whole point of the CU is for the whole CU to apply the same tariffs (and other barriers) to goods entering from outside the CU. No one member of the CU can do its own thing.”

    What if the EU tariffs are inadequate? The strongest vote correlation amongst Leave voters in the UK’s EU Referendum would indicate EU tariffs imposed on Chinese imports are not high enough:-

    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2870313>

    This would suggest the UK negotiates a new Customs Union with the EU that agrees to impose EU tariff rates but retains the right to increase them (not lower them) where it sees fit.

  19. On that site it is almost impossible for rational people to decide what is written in earnest. This is acknowledged by his employers. They see no reputational risk in an associated blog running deranged points of view. Whither Facebook?

  20. The biggest problem Murphy has with being an autodidact is that his pupil is a fucking moron. His ignorance and low intelligence combine to produce an absolutely disabling level of Dunning-Kruger. He does not know what he does not know, and his vanity renders him incapable of even entertaining the idea that there are huge lacunae in his knowledge.

  21. Out of perversity, looked up “egregious” in the dictionary.

    adjective: egregious

    1.
    outstandingly bad; shocking.

    2.
    archaic
    remarkably good.

    Only english, eh?

  22. BiS – only latin really. Grex – gregis (f) means a flock so with the prefix ex-/e- we have a meaning of something being outside the flock, out of the common herd or unusual.

    BiCR – rem acu tetigisti

  23. @ Theophrastus
    Around 5% of 100 million is *a lot* of people but an order of magnitude smaller.
    All the armies in Europe combined in Napoleon’s time didn’t have one-quarter of the number Stalin or Mao killed by their famines.

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