Tag Archives: Adam Smith

Working Well

Is capitalism evil? Many today think it is, or at least believe it is more likely to cause harm than good.

Despite the incredible evidence surrounding us in the West in general and the United States in particular, many who have benefited greatly from capitalism still decry it. Theodore Malloch attempts to show that idea for the deceit that it is.

He’s not the clearest in debate, nor the strongest in argument, but you cannot deny that his argument carries weight. But what is his argument?

Michael Novak, writing in the foreward of Theodore Malloch’s book Doing Virtuous Business, claims that it was Adam Smith who asked the most important revolutionary question. Not “What is the cause of poverty?” which could have only showed how to create more poverty, but “What is the nature and cause of the wealth of nations?” This question showed the path to create wealth, not for Adam Smith, but for billions of people across the world.

In the intervening years much has been lost about the connection between doing what is right and doing what is profitable. Ayn Rand began with Nietzsche and ended in cold, heartless, and frankly mindless pursuit of gain for gains’ sake. Rand has supplanted Smith as the prime purveyor of the principles of capitalism, and this is a travesty because one cannot get human worth from Rand. Neither can one get human worth from Smith, but Adam Smith knew that there was more to profit than making money, and more to business than making profit.

Theodore Malloch, in Doing Virtuous Business, attempts to bring to life the original thoughts and ideals of Adam Smith, expanding with his own idea of Spiritual Capital, to point the way for those who wish to pursue business while maintaining their humanity. While I felt most of the book fell rather flat, the argument itself stood well. Reading the first two chapters, the last two chapters, and the appendices, which catalog businesses started and run well with goals beyond the bottom line or the shareholders, will provide as good an argument as you’ll get from reading the rest of the book. But the book is a rather short one, so reading the whole thing doesn’t put one too far behind.

All in all I do recommend this book, not to those who think capitalism is evil and need convincing otherwise, but to those who know it cannot be inherently evil but are batted about by those who do.

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