Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision

Adam Smith & Slavery

Posted Nov 12, 2010 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 3 Comments

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, or almost a thousand.  As I demonstrate in Civilizing the Economy, Adam Smith knew that the slave-based tobacco trade was a major source of wealth in Scotland and especially in Glasgow, where he lived when collecting material for The Wealth of Nations.  Instead of telling us this, he tells us about the invisible hand, a good illustration of what we can call the economics of dissociation:  a process of splitting off the misery of the real providers of wealth and then feeling optimistic about market dynamics.

3 Responses to “Adam Smith & Slavery”

  1. Josh S says:

    June 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

    If you think Adam Smith didn't talk about the injustice slavery in Wealth of Nations, you didn't read the book.
  2. Marvin Brown says:

    June 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Please point out the sentences in the text of The Wealth of Nations where he wrote that slavery was unjust. I would like to know about it.
  3. says:

    April 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Aw, this was a really good post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a superb article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don't seem to get anything done.

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Marvin T. Brown, Ph.D teaches business and organizational ethics at the University of San Francisco and Saybrook University in San Francisco.

This book is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and writing on business and society from a communicative perspective. Visit for more information.

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