Monday, March 19, 2007

A Kirkcaldy mirror

At [the] core was a conviction that the history of commerce was, in [Emma] Rothschild's words, "an epic of the emancipation of the mind". Economic liberty delivered far more than personal profit: it engendered political, legal and intellectual enlightenment. And with it a mutual understanding of human sympathy. [Adam] Smith thought that any barriers to this process of individual fulfilment needed to be eliminated, in particular, the closed shop of corporation, guild and apprenticeship, which dictated the pre-industrial economy. Hence his celebrated aphorism that "people of the same trade seldom meet together...but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public." His paean to commercial freedom was, in fact, a radical call for personal and political emancipation.
-- Adam Smith's philosophy according to Tristram Hunt

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