Friday afternoon video: Adam Smith’s man of system

Lynne Kiesling

Adam Smith’s “man of system” is one of my favorite metaphors for a policymaker who is so taken with imposing his vision of society that he treats the individuals in it like pieces on a chessboard, ignoring the fact that each one of them has his or her own principles, values, and autonomy — his or her own “laws of motion”, in Smith’s language. The man of system sees individuals as pieces of a system, as means to an end, which is his vision of a planned, ordered society.

Our friends at Learn Liberty and philosopher Jim Otteson have collaborated on a short and evocative video explaining the man of system and the consequences of his actions.

Something thought-provoking for your weekend. Look for the man of system; he’s everywhere in policy today, to our detriment.

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