Analysis of Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

1044 Words3 Pages
Analysis of Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

People of the same trade seldom meet together,

even for merriment and diversion,

but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public,

or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Adam Smith

The reasons for writing a book such as Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations are many,

and Smith seems to have had several in mind. His study traces the stages in the

development of the modern economic system in an attempt to explain it, maps out the

origins of money, and finally tackles the issues facing the mercantile system which

controlled the society he lived in. In the process, he provides an exposition for his vision

of a laissez faire economy, that is, capitalism as we now know it. More broadly, however,

Smith's account reveals his views on the nature of the human condition, and not a single

theme is explored without some observation being made upon human tendencies and

decisions. Most importantly, however, one finds that Smith's views have often been

interpreted in a very simplistic way by modern economists and used selectively as

justification for contemporary decision-making processes. Moreso, certain criticisms and

reflections made by Smith, in particular, his scorn for businessmen, would appear to

have been (conveniently?) overlooked.

Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of nations as a result of some eighteen years of

contemplation. The book, which is concerned with the wealth of nations, that is, the

standard of living and the effect that economic prosperity has upon general opulence, is

outlined well in Adam Smith's own introduction. Smith wrote the book to explain how a

country like England, a commercial society, could prosper. To explain this fully, Smith


... middle of paper ... years, also became a customs official. He will have had some knowledge of

"the sneaking arts of underling tradesmen"; perhaps enough to permanently sour his

views about the motives behind the policy arguments of businessmen.

It is easy to see where the success of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations lies. While

the political theories may not have been entirely new nor revolutionary, they are

succinctly presented, and, coupled with his observations on humanity, serve as a

narrative for modern society. And, while recognition is given to the short-comings of any

system due to the fallibility of human nature, Smith offers an alternative to the mercantile

system of his day which he considered so tyrannous. We can only hope that his

cynicism about the nature and cations of the business community can be rejuvenated

and acted upon positively in the near future.
Open Document