1. Participants in market economies are motivated by self-interest. (SI)
2. Decentralized market economies work very well, and maximize the welfare of society as a whole. (FM: free markets)
3. The reason for excellent functioning of decentralized market economies is that all participants are motivated by self-interest. This self-interest works better than love and kindness in terms of promoting social welfare. (GG: greed is good)
4. The principles listed above were summarized in the concept of the “Invisible Hand” by Adam Smith. (AS)
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Comments on your paper:
General impression: A lot of work has gone into the paper, evidenced by references to wide-ranging literature. That is always good in academic papers (providing, of course, the refs are relevant) and they appear to be used well.
However, I am disturbed by what amount to ideological attacks on elements of the other ideologies that you criticise. This weakens both cases, pro and contra and distracts from the main case against conventional modern economists. I assume you seek support for your ideas among fellow academics and too many, I fear, will be distracted into defensive knee-jerk hostility by simply labelling you as a “leftist” ideologue arguing with “rightist” ideologues (along lines of it’s a case of “pots calling kettles back”).
The cases of both Russia (sudden transformation”) and Chile’s (too sudden ambitious transformation) are cases in point. Russia was reeling from the collapse (not too strong a word) of the Soviet enforced state-run economy and its political apparatus, which precluded a long and gradual optimal economic and political transformation, with the results that you outline, though it has generated through recent oil wealth some welcome politico-economic stability with, of course, an authoritarian government. Chile was in political chaos following the murder of Allende, into which some Chicago ‘hot heads’ – far from humble – flew in to enforce their prescriptions, based on little experience of Chile nor of the pragmatic realities of the country or the Continent (having met with CIA political operatives knowledgeable of South America, I am surprised that this basic error was allowed - ‘promoted”? - it was destined to fail). Knowledge of economics of any school of thought is insufficient for transforming an economy while looking for – expecting – rapid results. I suggest a ruthless purge of the essentially political and ideological language in your paper, if it is to be widely read.
Adam Smith may help you here with the substance of your paper. You are correct that Smith did not advocate nor excuse selfish behaviour. He writes thus in ‘Moral Sentiments’ and in ‘Wealth Of Nations’. Moreover, and most relevant, he was quite clear on your basic theme: humans everywhere depend on the voluntary co-operation of thousands of others (WN I.ii.). That is the essential feature of any economy in any society.
Anthropologists show how small bands depend on each other for their sustenance, sharing in times of need and in many cases institutionalising this natural ‘insurance’ behaviour in (observed not conjectured) band-wide pooling of their labours each day which brings reciprocal sharing behaviours that empirically substantiates Smith’s point (in his case conjectured, not necessarily observed). See Christopher Boem, 2012. ‘Moral Origins: the evolution of virtue, altruism, and shame’. Basic Books. (Based on scores of cases of field-work and specialist observations).
However, Smith’s conjectured point led to his asserted advice in his famous passage in Book 1, chapter 2, of the “butcher, brewer, and baker”, widely misread (if read at all), specifically that the buyer, in search of his dinner (more likely his female relative!) must “address the interests (‘self-love’)” of the seller, and specifically not his own! The needs of the buyer are not the explicit part of the persuasive transaction – that would mean the buyer relying on the seller’s benevolence, already excluded as benevolence being an “insufficient” resource (basically nobody has enough of the means to be totally benevolent towards everybody else for everything).
In short, Smith advised addressing our self-interests necessarily by addressing the self-interests of others, that is self-interests are realised on a daily basis by each individual party to the transactions mediating their self-interests through persuasion, conversation, and bargaining, not by egotistically demanding others surrender to ours. This is fundamental to the doctrine of self-interest.
George Stigler’s 1976 opening admonition that economics is founded on the “granite of self-interest” needed to be modified by the inclusion of the words “the granite of mediated self-interest”! Smith might have saved the Chicago ‘boys’ from embarrassment if they had read Smith properly and not been enthused by Stigler’s enthusiasms for a half-understood idea that wasn’t Smith’s anyway.
I hope the above is useful for you.
Very best regards