Les Maladies and Le Monde

Refuting a French philosopher’s depiction of capitalism as “savage liberalism” motivated by the darker emotions…

Adam Smith was certainly not a red-in-tooth-and-claw man, neither personally nor doctrinally. He had a rather sunny view of human nature, believing that people had a natural sympathy for one another and indeed often acted against their own immediate and selfish interests. People’s sympathy for one another was so obvious for him, so common and universal an experience, that he said it didn’t need proof of existence.

…Smith thought that certain virtues—honesty, prudence, trustworthiness—were of advantage to capitalists. The nastiest, most unscrupulous person is not necessarily the most successful. Indeed, as Montesquieu understood, economic liberalism is incompatible with savagery and actively promotes certain social virtues. Corporatism is quite different.

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