September 27th, 2012 / 5:37 pm
Author Spotlight

Adam Smith’s Multi-Touch Invisible Hand

In school there was always the grade. Now we’ve graduated to a system of answers privately corrected, and of public failure. Do you know the markets? I play them sometimes. They are not always open, you see. Though I suppose there are these constant rumors of emotional success. Yoga, for example. Parenting? The system of invisible and unpronounceable truth partially submerged in unfolding experience: value. I think I like to see it both as our American currency, and as the sort of power you can have in bed or at the office.

Do you recall education? I remember the swift way our interests became jobs that carved us into weird working shapes, not machines, totally human, just degraded to the point of blind roles and and dark alliances and revenge projects. It was my hope to understand how to support myself and others with ideas and sweat. But the system I endure has nothing to do with labour. Adam Humphreys speaks about emotional labor, and I try to ignore him. But he is correct, I fear.

We do not build things people consume to survive. We know little about this. We build temples. We move as with the ghosts of childhood laws. Playground game rules. The things your parents tried not to explain. Stealth morality. It is a constant experiment with existence, with parameters that should always be broken but are usually not. The days continue without clever moral sculptures. Our roles are traditional. Living wages. The project is growth, an abstract thing I don’t understand except when I see larger and larger buildings or families with many, many children. Let’s build an idea that supports our idea. The rest will be a class system with no walls. It is this mountain of unreality that I always try to write about.

In the race to satisfy our basic needs, we succeeded beyond anything previously foretold. Oops. The Dutch. The Spanish. The English. The Americans. The Chinese. Civilization washes itself forward in a torrent of technology and war and lust for ideas to reconcile both. That was poetry, in college, for me.

I would like to build a place for myself in a land not owned by anyone. It is impossible to not steal lives and kill memory. The iPhone was sort of an old idea about efficiency. Jobs was a man of the fish market, Chelsea piers, 1890s, realizing efficiency, maybe. Buy your own fucking boat. Hire a captain. Meet the supplier. I would like to apply for a job where I make nobody obsolete, where my role creates an inefficiency of desire (this is hilarious yes, even French), producing the need for more work, further spoils, a greater good. But I do not understand the meaning of growth. I do not see what the economy intends to do with human life. I only see this 50% transparency warfare becoming a lifestyle blog. Two taps to the face by a stealth drone aircraft from 5000ft? OK, sure baby. Yes, we take Paypal. No, we can’t effect political change.

It is quiet at night in a bar near the edge of New York culture. Then I feel the invisible hand; it is at my throat. The hand wants destruction, suffering, compression. The hand is never a comfort. It never understands calm. It roughly pushes me into a new 7-11, where I am finally able to simulate enough desire to perform a feeble transaction.

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.

Of course, Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 1776; some coincidence. There is this taste in my mouth and this echo in my bank account. Another note: people generally don’t limit their discussion of the invisible hand to domestic vs. foreign trade. So like, let’s go nutz.

Wikipedia suggests Smith borrowed the phrase from Shakespeare, but Willy seems to have been referring to abstract feminine influence, rather than um, the iTouch (man?)-God of fair commerce. The extent to which The Hand confounds, the extent to which it is non-moral and non-political, is the subject of this post. Young people, at their computers, thinking about invisible hands, in 2012. That’s a non-spectacle. They are just imagining a totally frictionless consumer experience, I guess. YouTube video auto-plays and you come sexually, forever. Outside, a wasteland.

Perfect political cycle. A different candidate for every cell in your body. You will all be touched eventually. Haha. You may never understand why, but apparently you don’t need to? It’s so convenient.

Dronestrike™ flavored Doritos©, baby. It’s what the market wanted. 4G? Swoosh, dead.


  1. deadgod

      what the economy intends

      intension of political economy = accumulation

      accumulation = transforming ‘life’ of others into one’s own comfort & luxury

  2. abysmal

      “According to one story, Smith took Charles Townshend on a tour of a tanning factory, and while discussing free trade, Smith walked into a huge tanning pit from which he needed help to escape.[51] He is also said to have put bread and butter into a teapot, drunk the concoction, and declared it to be the worst cup of tea he ever had.”