The author of ‘Commercial society’ Adam Smith has become synonymous with free market economics, due to his theoretical contribution to the field of economics of the ideal society that perpetuates wealth creation and other facets of the discipline to thrive in. It is clear that his insight in social and political philosophy has earned him a place in the mortals of classic economics. This essay aims at examining Adam Smith's concept of commercial society. It will debunk Adam Smith's concept of commercial society in the context of enlightenment. It will use Adam Smith's enthusiasm and belief in commercial society to recognize the advantages as well as the disadvantages, derived from the commercial society. The essay will then draw a conclusion that will legitimize the findings made.
Adam’s Smith Concept of Commercial Society
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The concepts and ideologies in commercial society began when Aristotelianism was still dominant in the political spheres of the society. There was a need to shift to newer concepts. As a result, economists and philosophers began drafting new economic structures. As a result, commercial society was born. It is clear that this idealism took a new turn from the embryonic economic goals that characterized its creation. The new turn came with the onset of Adam’s Smith authorship on commercial society that had more far-reaching political implications on how to govern the society (Smith, Copley & Sutherland, 2005).
The essay defines commercial society as the changes that occur in the society’s economic realms that mainly focused on agriculture to the more versatile manufacturing faction as the driving force in the new economy. The design ofcommercial society had strata, arising from its implementation in the early stages. It took its analogy from the ship travelling to France from Newcastle. The ship had a captain who gave orders to the petty officers, leading hands and apprentices. The manufacturing industries adopted this analogy. Commercial society stipulated that these industries had to have a definite stratum which included managers, supervisors, semi-skilled and skilled workers. Their wage structure also differed. To carry out this concept early in the 19th century skilled labor was compulsory. This resulted in an influx in the number of students who enrolled in the educational institutions, such as the Edinburgh School of Arts. Young literate people had enrolled to learn arithmetic, chemistry and physics. The knowledge acquired pushed them up to the employment hierarchy in the revitalized economy. The new concept motivated ordinary people to work. This had a huge impact on the industrial revolution (Heyne, 2001).
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Adam’s smith philosophy of a commercial society advocated for a society that propagated peace. Adam Smith had noted that war and commerce thrived together. The two factors were the means to one's ends. For instance, commerce was a means of conquering business dealing in reciprocal agreement between the two parties. War of commerce, as seen by Adam Smith, was a virtuous circle that eliminated brutality of weaponry war by creating peace through trade. For instance, trade between nations established the new trade routes. The ships that travel through these routes were safe. Therefore, nations must give safety needs for each other, based on the mutual interest in commerce. As a result, nations evaded conflicts. Therefore, it is clear that commercial society not only brought about economic benefits, but also political ones, as indicated above (Elgar, 2001).
Commercial society benefited laborers. It aided them to make surplus income from the production. They would then use the surplus amount earned in profits for other economically viable activities or to supplement their overall income. This benefit was well supported by the underlying facts that it did not exist in the society before the community society. This is because before laborers worked and produced strictly to please their employers by meeting the below par production levels. They only produced what the employers asked them to produce. However, as community society came into practice, employers began collaborating with their employees. As a result, they produced extra goods and this became a commonality. Its percentages rose over the years. This led to improvement in land usage, as it is clear in Adam Smith’s book. He described ways that landlords would use to improve their land, and as a result, keep up high production levels. The most fundamental criterion to improve the land production by Adam Smith was re-investment of profit in the land (Gregg, 2007).
Community society advocated for individualism, where a person pursued his or her dream and economic interests. This would motivate them to work hard. As a result, they yielded better results. It would also indirectly benefit the society, as it would push the levels of production higher than they were now. As a result, products price would decrease. This would make them affordable to most people in the community. Self interest promoted business competition in the free market. As a result, a broader market spectrum emerged. It had more products at competitive prices. This benefited the society immensely. This is because the self-interest rewarded hard work and ingenuity. It developed a free market naturally without the external forces, such as the governments interfering. It promoted competition between the market and the businesses. As a result, production rate and levels shot up. This necessitated innovation on how to the lower production costs and produce quality goods in high quantities. New technologies emerged. This propelled the society progressively in terms of quality and prices. The commercial society marked the agrarian revolution (Montes, 2006).
Problems of Commercial Society
One of the major drawbacks in the commercial society is that many of the society members were not productive. This negated the ideological fundamentalism of commercial society that Adam Smith was so optimistic about. Adam Smith stated that the ordinary person would work, thus, propel the economy forward. However, this was not true. Adam Smith had stipulated that the industrial peasant would support the industrialists in their quest to create wealth. This was not the case. On the contrary, the élite members of the society were suppressing the industrial peasants, thus, impoverishing them, instead of aiding them to conquer poverty that overshadowed them. Consequently, the morale propensity in the hope that working hard would increase their wealth, and that of the society decreased (Brown, 2008).
Commercial society demands that the society be governed by virtues, such as reliability, decency, equity and adherence to the societal norms that governed justice in the society. Commercial society expected the production realms of the economy to embody these virtues to succeed. Adam Smith in his opinion desired that all economic gains made in the society be well balanced with moral obligations underlined by the societal practices of justice. This proposition in commercial society contrasts to the real world business practices that emerged. Commercial society advocacy for division of labor and overall capitalism resulted in economic inequality and moral decadence. This is because self-interest resulted in wealth creation for a small group of people. This small group of people controlled the rest of the society through its monopolistic power. Consequently, it exploited the rest of the society through high prices for products (Rasmussen, 2008).
It is clear that after the commercial society emerged, it became the focal point of the society’s economic and political future. This is because the new production methods and laborers pay rates emerged. However, the most crucial transition was in the political environment, as it became ideal to the new revolution that the society quietly wanted. Therefore, it is prudent to end this essay by stating that commercial society was a successful prognosis of Adam Smith in which it merited the society, despite the number of problems that emerged from its adoption in the society.
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