On episode 1268 of the Tom Woods Show, where Mark Skousen runs through economic thought and defends Adam Smith’s legacy as the founder to free market capitalism. I have my disagreements with that, mostly because all of what Adam Smith had been written about beforehand and perfected before him.
But in particular Skousen says, around 18 minutes into the show,
…yes they [people before Adam Smith] had great economics, but they didn’t have the influence that Adam Smith had. Adam Smith’s book [The Wealth of Nations] had this huge influence that we tend to discount because he made a lot of mistakes along the way.
Okay fine, Adam Smith played a much larger role in the development of communism (through his labor as supposed to subjective theory of value) than the ‘Pre Adamites’ did. I’m more than willing to admit that. But sneering aside, why does this matter about who is the father of economics.
Smith is the guy in the class who cheats off you, turns it in first and now it seemed like you cheated off him. Skousen seems to openly praise Smith as the founder of modern economics. You can watch this debate between him and Gene Epstein over the subject to see what I mean. Skousen takes the view that because Smith was the most popular he was the founder of Modern Economics.
It doesn’t matter how popular you are, if you’re not genetically related to the child you’re not the father. Likewise, how ridiculous would it be to say that Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato aren’t the founders of Philosophy because their ideas weren’t popular for their time and weren’t implemented, but rather we should look at people who wrote the same things as they did 100 years later as the founder of Philosophy.
The same problem is with Adam Smith. The Pre Adamites wrote everything he did and better, but he said it louder so he must be the founder.