Updating Adam Smith – A New Love Story for the Future

2 04 2011

Adam Smith Proposed the Invisible Hand

What we Need is a New Story

Thomas Berry once famously remarked that what we need at this period in our history is a new story. Being an American Theologian and (deep) Ecologist of the 20th Century, Berry was certainly familiar with the old story. That is the story that impelled and propelled us into a future which we now inhabit. Consider that the old story runs on the operating system of the old DNA. From this old DNA and outdated operating system the old story has been endlessly told and retold. One of the old molecules of the old operating system that we must review in light of recent events is Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. The recent events being of course the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009. (and now continuing on into the next decade Ed 22nd Aug 2011). What we need is a new story.

The Invisible Hand proposed by Smith has been an essential part of the philosophy of the Economic Rationalism of Milton Friedman of the Chicago School of Economics. It is an unshakeable belief in a mysterious and mythical Invisible Hand that has led to so much sufering in the world – this is not what we need. It is now time we had a good hard look at the hand and consider a new story. You see, rather than regulating markets in some kind of divinely guided way it seems the hand has spent most of it’s time congratulating itself and doing crooked deals behind closed doors. Ah the hand. It doesn’t sound like much of a Divine hand to Dr Quantum. So whose hand is it then?

If there is a need to bring the almighty into the equation (and Dr Quantum says um . . .yes) then please, please, please . . . let us not ascribe to the Great Spirit the actions of a hand which the Great Spirit has delegated to man, for to do so is an exercise in ignorance and absurdity par excellence. This must become part of the new story and more widely understood.

The real reason for embracing the principle of the invisible hand is the story of self-serving greed, covered over with a veneer of respectable enlightenment. The cloak of respectability that dresses up the invisible hand as something good and true and worthy is based entirely on the premise that the invisible hand is actually the agency of God. The Invisible Hand myth rests upon the cherished notion that it represents the immutable will of God. Unfortunately Adam Smith got it all wrong. Dr Quantum does not argue agaisnt the existence of God as if such negativism is some scientific given. This kind of psuedo-scientific athiesm is the stuff of ignorance heaped on ignorance. I HOPE YOU ARE PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION (yes i am shouting). Psuedo-Science is certainly not a valid argument against the Divine nature of the Invisible Hand. The real argument against the Invisible Hand myth is exactly the opposite. Ready to be outraged? Then come with me.

The real story is based around the notion that . . .as functionaries within the quantum realm of creative manifestation, the Divine Power, if it does exist is indeed given us to create what we WILL. And if there is no God as certain individuals would maintain – without, one must point out, a single shred of evidence – then we should understand ourselves to be creatures of enormous creative power. Such power includes the ability to generate self-fulfilling prophecies, for in the quantum realm verily it is written that YOU CREATE YOUR OWN REALITY. I sometimes wish i could create someone to  wash up my dishes . . .but i digress.

As we look into the world and see markets rising and falling and certain trends emerging and others passing out of influence, we see nothing if not the power of focused human intention. If we see wealthy, powerful, elite groups of entrenched selfishness keeping large numbers of others enslaved in economic servitude it is because all the players in the drama have agendas to play these parts. (think long cycles of time that would require reincarnation to be fulfilled) The only invisible hand that is in operation if such a thing does exist is a zero-sum game where all equations will be balanced out . . .eventually. But you see, this is exactly the same idea that ecology and nature will be not be mocked . . .eventually. YOU as a player in the market are given plenty of rope. So bollocks to Adam Smith, bollocks to the Invisible hand and while we’re at it . . .bollocks to Milton Friedman.

The markets are not being regulated by an invisible hand, but your karma surely is just as the planetary ecology surely is. These cycles can and do operate over lifetimes and aeons. So here’s the thing . . . it’s time to stop telling ourselves stories that aren’t true and it’s time to start making up some worthy stories that have the light of truth within them. In that spirit Dr Quantum forthwith and hereby advances some code-molecules that must surely fit into the DNA of an enlightened mythology for a truly bright, prosperous and sustainable future. Are you ready for the new story of Quantumized truth? Here goes. Put these where the Sun does shine.

  1. LOVE is the answer
  2. FEAR is what makes domination strategies seem like a good idea
  3. A path with no heart can only lead to disaster
  4. The miraculous solutions to our seemingly insoluble problems are just beyond our fingertips and as such we may have to reach for them
  5. Respect for all of LIFE includes resepct for plants, animals, people and things, for metaphysically there is only YOU, the ONE, and you want to learn how to love yourslef; deeply, genuinely, authentically and joyously
  6. Nothing matters so you had better start caring for LIFE or pretty soon YOU wont matter
  7. Life really is an illusion – all of it. Which illusion do you now choose to make real throught he power of your transformative quantum miraculousness?
  8. It may be the karma of the starving millions to be starving, but it’s your karma to know about them . . .how do you wish to respond?
  9. It is essential to have a positive vision if you want to be positively powerful and change the world for the better
  10. What goes around comes around
  11. You are the invisible hand made flesh. DO SOMETHING
  12. What we need is a new story

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5 responses

2 04 2011
Clea

Dear Doctor Q. Thanks for another satisfying sharing on your part. I will continue doing what i can with my not-so-invisible hands. Working towards maintaining as much integrity, balance, loving and caring as i can as i walk through the world. I had an angry lady tell me off in the city today and i walked away feeling less than fantastic. I decided that instead of passing on upset and negativity (which is what i felt like), I would pass on kindness and gratitude. The next corner i rounded was a very old man selling plants and nick-nacks. We had a beautiful moment together and i gave him money in exchange for a beautiful plant (fresh mint). Guided by the true invisible hand of the heart 🙂

4 04 2011
DR Quantum's Blog

Guided by the True Invisible Hand of The Heart. Sounds like a great title for book or a movie

5 04 2011
DR Quantum's Blog

This just appeared on SMH Online – scary stuff . . .In one of the most remarkable statements of our time, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve has argued that it is inherently impossible to usefully regulate a modern financial system, telling us to relax because “the global invisible hand” of the free market has created a stable economy over the longer run.

23 11 2011
Thomas Davis

To me Adam Smith is not so much the problem, although I agree with you and Thomas Berry that we need a new story. After all, Smith only mentioned the invisible hand once in Wealth of Nations, and he did that within a context that argued against charters (which we now call corporations). He did not get to Schumacher’s stance that small is beautiful, but the logic of his ideas did not entertain endless accumulations of capital that have the power to distort the power of the markeplace. Still, Smith’s ideas are probably not as strong as they were in a world with cyberspace and the need to protect everyday people against the depredations against market forces that are clearly not be held in check by either Smith’s proposed mechanisms or the more sane mechanisms the sustainable economics community has proposed. A thought provoking post.

23 11 2011
DR Quantum's Blog

Thank you Thomas Davis. You have provided clarity, insight and signposts for further useful inquiry. To be honest I have not read Wealth of Nations and have gone on the offensive against the idea, the meme of the invisible hand. Adam Smith just happens to get quoted by the everyman market-force ideologues over and over again. The invisible hand myth is so obviously not correct in light of events in the world that I felt a statement, a new story, a new meme must be put out. As far as I am concerned the more people who come to question this previously unasailable truism . . .the better. Again thanks for providing clarity.

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