the invisible hand is simply the thudding fist of the powerful

chandini

New Member
Chinese
The Wealth of Humans by Ryan Avent

please help me with this, thanks:

As in baseball, it is easy for all the participants in the economy to
convince themselves that their participation is what matters, that they
are the authentic creators of value, that their effort is what ought to
be rewarded most handsomely. And everyone has a point. But while
we can rely on economics to do some of the work of sorting out who
deserves what, we are kidding ourselves if we think the invisible hand
can be entrusted to handle the whole job. Left alone, the invisible
hand is simply the thudding fist of the powerful. It would be wonderful
if things were otherwise, but they aren’t.


it is not easy to understand the underlined part. what is this "thudding fist" and "the powerful" here? does it mean: the invisible hand (of economics) is only a powerful factor (affecting income distribution). it would be wonderful if we dont rely only on ecnomics, but unfortunately we have no other choice?
 
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "The invisible hand" is a metaphor created Adam Smith, who used it most famously in his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations (and note that the title of Avent's book is a play on this title.) For Smith, it meant that when an individual pursues his own economic interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. Modern economists understand this to mean that Smith recommends a completely free economy, because even when people act selfishly, their actions to advance their own good will ultimately help everyone. Avent is rejecting this idea, and is using another metaphor that involves the human hand: a thudding fist (that is, a fist that beats down opposition.)

    If you put a definite article in front of an adjective, it becomes a noun that means "people who have that quality"
    The rich = people who are rich.
    The old = people who are old.
    The famous = people who are famous.

    In the same way, "the powerful" = people who are powerful.

    Does that help?
     
    Last edited:

    chandini

    New Member
    Chinese
    "The invisible hand" is a metaphor created Adam Smith, who used it most famously in his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations (and note that the title of Avent's book is a play on this title.) For Smith, it meant that when an individual pursues his own economic interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. Modern economists understand this to mean that Smith recommends a completely free economy, because even when people act selfishly, their actions to advance their own good will ultimately help everyone. Avent is rejecting this idea, and is using another metaphor that involves the human hand: a thudding fist (that is, a fist that beats down opposition.)

    If you put a definite article in front of an adjective, it becomes a noun that means "people who have that quality"
    The rich = people who are rich.
    The old = people who are old.
    The famous = people who are famous.

    In the same way, "the powerful" = people who are powerful.

    Does that help?
    Thanks, i know about the metaphor of invisible hand. yes i misunderstand "the powerful" here. so basically it means:

    Anyway, the invisible hand is nothing but the control of the powerful. It would be wonderful if things were otherwise (i.e. not controlled by the powerful), but they aren’t.

    is it so?
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    No. You are missing (or misunderstanding) that initial "Left alone" in the sentence. Avent is saying that if you leave the "invisible hand" alone (that is, if you let the economy control itself), the "invisible hand" become the "thudding fist" of powerful people taking control of the economy.
     
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