Is Adam Smith Liberal? - 10.1628/0932456022975222 - Mohr Siebeck

Elias L. Khalil

Is Adam Smith Liberal?

Volume 158 () / Issue 4, pp. 664-694 (31)

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Smith's theory of authority is nonliberal both in the classical liberal sense of Locke and Buchanan and in the social liberal sense of Bentham and Marx. Smith distinguishes civil contract from political contract: While the state protects rights à la civil contract, its differentia specifica is the political contract, which involves authority and allegiance. Allegiance is neither an involuntary act nor the product of choice à la civil contract. Allegiance characterizes the enlistment of low-rank agents in the service of high-rank agents whose station is desired. For Smith, admiration of the powerful is the origin of political order – which is a nonliberal view.

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