Wealth of Nations

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Adam Smith's treatise was published in 1776 when the old mercantilist system was fast breaking down. In simple and direct language, Smith argued the case for laissez‐faire with a minimum of government intervention, though he conceded the need for regulation to protect national security, such as fostering shipping. He did not believe that politicians had any competence in directing economic activity, nor did he like their motives—‘there is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people’.

Subjects: Literature — British History.

Reference entries

Adam Smith (1723—1790) moral philosopher and political economist

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