Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is a work which ultimately allowed people to become familiar at least at a basic level with how free-market economies work. The concept of the “invisible hand,” which Smith described in the book, outlines how individuals can unknowingly contribute to society’s well-being through personal efforts. According to Smith (118), a person “by pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote.” In other words, Adams claims that individuals have the capacity to manage their capital more effectively than government bodies and in a way which improved the overall prosperity of society.
The Communist Manifesto, authored by Marx and Engels, is another example of influential writing which even inspired several revolutions worldwide. Marx and Engels state that class struggles are an indispensable part of the history of any society. Namely, Marx and Engels (58) state, “… Oppressor and oppressed… carried on… a fight that each time ended in a revolutionary reconstitution of society or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” Such an idea means that throughout history, every society had groups which engaged in a competition which eventually led to radical socio-economic changes.
The primary difference in the ideas presented by Smith and Marx lies in their approaches to an ideal society. Adams believed that the only possible way to ensure prosperity was to grant people complete freedom in their actions and let them decide how to manage their capital. While Marx was certain that the only fair type of society would be where the proletariat would own all means of production collectively with the aim of “abolition of private property” (Marx and Engels 82). Thus, capitalism and communism are related because both recognize the property as a significant socio-economic factor.
Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto.
Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Edited by Edwin A. Seligman, J. M. Dent, 1901.