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Adam Smith on the Glory of War

Summary:
Yesterday I posted two quotes from Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments to back up a Glenn Greenwald claim. Based on that, it seemed that Glenn had given a very rough precis. Well, it turns out that Glenn's summary of Smith's point was actually dead on. Because it turns out that the relevant Smith quote is from The Wealth of Nations. Here it is:In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies. To them this amusement compensates the small difference between the taxes which

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Adam Smith on the Glory of War

Yesterday I posted two quotes from Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments to back up a Glenn Greenwald claim. Based on that, it seemed that Glenn had given a very rough precis.

Well, it turns out that Glenn's summary of Smith's point was actually dead on. Because it turns out that the relevant Smith quote is from The Wealth of Nations. Here it is:

In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies. To them this amusement compensates the small difference between the taxes which they pay on account of the war, and those which they had been accustomed to pay in time of peace. They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory, from a longer continuance of the war.

HT2 Liberty Fund and Andrew G. Humphries.


David Henderson
David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

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