Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Honoring Adam Smith

The Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think-tank founded in 1977 and based in London, has announced plans to erect a memorial to its namesake in Edinburgh, where Smith lived and wrote many of his most famous works, including The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

According to the Institute

A unique opportunity has opened up. An opportunity to give the world a landmark monument to Adam Smith - the pioneering Scottish economist, philosopher, and author of The Wealth of Nations. A monument to stand at the very heart of Scotland’s capital, where he lived, worked, and died.

We can make this happen. Planning consent has been granted, the City of Edinburgh has donated a prime site, designs and models have been created, the sculptor and other professionals are ready, and the local heritage groups are enthusiastic. But we need your help.

Why a monument to Adam Smith? As author of The Wealth of Nations (1776), he was the champion of free trade and the pioneer of the modern market economy that dominates the free world today. With David Hume, he was one of the leading figures of the Scottish Intellectual Enlightenment. He lived and died in Edinburgh: yet there is no statue of him anywhere in Scotland. Many visitors go to Edinburgh to seek out Adam Smith's tomb, but come away disappointed. It is gloomy and hard to find, in an old churchyard off the narrow Canongate. It stands in grim contrast to Karl Marx's imposing, well cared for, iconic and much-visited monument in London. And of course, throughout the world, hundreds of statues of Marx still remain.

It is time that Adam Smith was properly commemorated. So the Adam Smith Institute is proposing to erect a hugely impressive statue of the great sage in the city he made his home.

I wonder if Charlottesville musician/actor Adam Smith and Washington state Congressman Adam Smith are aware of this effort to honor their Scottish namesake?

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