Adam Smith, like the other early classical liberals, was a revolutionary thinker who attacked the entrenched privileges of the landed oligarchy and the mercantile capitalists. It's almost impossible to go to a mainstream "libertarian" website these days without seeing the thought of Adam Smith misappropriated to defend the modern institution most closely resembling the landed interests and privileged monopolists of the Old Regime: the giant, state-subsidized, state-protected corporation.
As I suggested earlier, most people who display egalitarian reactions against existing inequalities and concentrations of wealth may well believe that what they hate is the "free market." But that's only because the rhetoric of "free markets" has been perverted, for the most part, by apologists for those concentrations of wealth which result from privilege and other forms of state intervention. What they hate, they rightly hate. They're wrong to believe that what they hate is the "free market." But it's hard to blame them, when you can't turn on the TV or read an editorial page without seeing a fundamentally statist economic system of special privilege and protection for big business and the rich described as "our free market system."
From:Review: The Mind of the Market, by Michael Shermer
at Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
Monday, May 19, 2008
Capitalism vs. the Free Market
Posted by Nick