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Adam Smith notes.docx

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History
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HIST-UA 105
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ertman

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Adam Smith- Wealth of Nations Book 1 Pg 11-30 Ch1 • Division of the labour • “the greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity and judgment with which it is any where directed, or applied, seemed to have been the effects of the division of labour” (11) • “the division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour” (13) • “this great increase of the quantity of work, which, in consequence of the division of labour, the same number of people capable of performing, is owing to three different circumstances; first, to the increase of dexterity in every particular workman; secondly, to the saving of time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another; and lastly, to the invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labour, and enable one man to do the work of many” (15) Ch2 • Human nature “the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another” (21) • “but man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only” (22) • “He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them.” (22) • “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages” (22) Also implied in the second chapter is the idea that people are motivated primarily by their own self­interest. Self­interest, for Smith, does not have  many of the negative connotations that it does today. Instead, Smith means to make the point that it is entirely natural, appropriate, and indeed  necessary for society that each person look after his own welfare, and not put the burden of his maintenance upon others. It is this propensity that  allows human economies, left largely to themselves, to thrive as if it were in their very nature to do so. Ch3 • That the division of labour is limited by the extent of the market –subtitle BOOK 3 Pg 227-301 Ch1 • Of the natural progress of opulence • “the gains of both are mutual and reciprocal” (227) • “according to the natural course of things, therefore, the greater part of the capital of every growing society is , first, directed to agriculture, afterwards to manufacturers, and last of all to foreign commerce” (232) CH2 • Of the discouragement of agriculture in the ancient state of Europe after the fall of the roman empire • The law of primogeniture hindered them from being divided by succession” (233) • “entails” “unjust advantage over the rest of their fellow citizens” (235) • “if little improvement was to be expected from such great proprietors, still less was to be hoped for from those who occupied the land under them” “they were all or almost all slaves” “ they were not, however, capable of acquiring property” (237) • “a slave, on the contrary, who can acquire nothing but his maintenance, consults his own ease by making the land produce as little as possible over and above that maintenance” unlike free men who “are capable of acquiring property,..they have a plain interest that the whole produce should be as great as possible, in order that their own proportion may be as great as possible” (239) Ch3 • The inhabitants of towns immediately following the fall of the Roman Empire were largely tradesmen and mechanics living in very servile  conditions and traveling from place to place and fair to fair, paying taxes for use of various roads, bridges, or toll­bearing passages.  However, their freedom seemed still to exceed that of the people who occupied land in the country. • The relative freedom of the original townspeople, or burghers, as Adam Smith terms them, came from the tendency of sovereigns of a  particular country to rent the land of a town to its inhabitants, and for those tenants to pay the rent in common. This rent, unlike that of  the serfs or occupants of farmland, was often offered at a fixed rate. The burghers went on to establish corporations and laws of local  government. Being unable to erect armies for their own defense and unlikely to be protected by the great lords, who envied and despised  them due to their wealth, the burghers established relationships with their neighbors in order to better resist threats or attacks. • Because of the hostility of the great lords, the burghers were disposed to support the sovereign. The sovereign supported the burghers  in return, aiming to undermine the great lords. This support amounted to granting the burghers their own magistrates, building walls for  their security, and granting them the best defense he could. Often, burghs developed their own militias for this latter purpose. In this  manner, order and good government were established in the cities while, in the country, people were still exposed to violence and  disorder. This imbalance in general security interrupted the natural progression of opulence in Europe, in that manufacturing was  encouraged before the land had been completely improved. In the case of Italy, Adam Smith points out, foreign commerce became a  very early priority, due both to the overwhelming opulence of Italian cities and their access to trade routes. Ch4 • The increase and riches of commercial and manufacturing towns contributed to the improvement and cultivation of the countries to which  they belonged, in three different ways: • Firstly, by providing a market for the rude produce of the country, they gave encouragement to its cultivation and further improvements.  The benefit extended to all the countries with which the merchants selling produce of a particular place had any dealings. • Secondly, the wealth acquired by the inhabitants of cities was frequently employed in purchasing lands previously uncultivated.  Merchants, Adam Smith writes, are fond of becoming country gentleman, and are more likely to improve their land through brave  innovations than a true country gentleman, who had not the income. • Thirdly, commerce and manufactures gradually introduced order and good government, and with them the liberty and security of  individuals. Previously, many lived in an almost continual state of war with their neighbors, and therefore in continual dependence upon  their superiors. • In this chapter, Adam Smith argues that the extravagant lifestyle of great proprietors is ultimately unsustainable. The trappings of wealth  and privilege are enormously expensive, and have a price that increases over time. Policy for owning land and keeping serfs was  designed to grant mere subsistence, which meant the great proprietors could not maintain their lifestyle, and their numbers decreased  over time. Adam Smith remarks that, in commercial countries, there are very few old landed families, while countries in which there is  little commerce there are many such families. Adam Smith goes on to contrast the growth rate of the North Ame
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