Grave of ‘Father of Capitalism’ Adam Smith Targeted by BLM-Inspired Slavery Review

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 04: A crowd gather to watch the unveiling of a 10ft bronze statue of Scottish economist, philosopher and author Adam Smith (1723-1790) at the Royal Mile on July 4, 2008 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The statue, created by Alexander Stoddart, was unveiled in the heart of Edinburgh …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The grave of Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Adam Smith has become the latest target of a Black Lives Matter-inspired review of sites supposedly linked to “slavery and colonialism” by Edinburgh Council.

Adam Smith, known as the “father of capitalism” for his seminal works on economic theory, including The Wealth of Nations, has drawn the ire of the Scottish capital’s local government, a coalition between the left-wing Labour Party and the left-separatist Scottish National Party (SNP).

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests spreading to the United Kingdom after the death of George Floyd in America, the city council launched a review of historical monuments, place names, and other memorials for “removal or re-interpretation” over alleged links to “racism and oppression”.

On Saturday, The Telegraph reported that Smith’s grave in Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirkyard, as well as his statue on the Royal Mile, have been added to the list of sites tied to “historical racial injustice”, despite the fact that the 17th-century Enlightenment thinker expressed opposition to the use of slave labour.

Documents seen by the paper said that Smith was included in the woke review because he “argued that slavery was ubiquitous and inevitable but that it was not as profitable as free labour”.

However, nearly fifty years before the abolition of slavery, Smith wrote in is 1759 work The Theory of Moral Sentiments in regards to the African slave trade: “Fortune never exerted more cruelly her empire over mankind, than when she subjected those nations of heroes to the refuse of the jails of Europe”.

The father of economics also argued that slave owners should be held in moral “contempt” by their slaves as well as that the economic system of slavery was less efficient than a system of voluntary exchange of capital and labour.

Responding to the latest attacks on British heritage, Robert Poll of the Save Our Statues campaign told Breitbart London: “Edinburgh’s statue review is out of control — severely lacking in due process, balance and expertise — and a sad illustration of what happens when we rush to hand over editorial control of our history to activists.

“Smith was a titan of Scotland’s Enlightenment and that his views can be so quickly and wrongly reinterpreted shows the risk currently hanging over our history.”

Historian Sir Tom Devine also argued against the historical inaccuracy of linking Smith with the injustices of the slave trade.

“I strongly take the view that the ‎Edinburgh City Council wording is ludicrously biased and distorted by giving the impression that Adam Smith accepted slavery as a fact of life, and so was not reprehensible,” Sir Tom said.

“It is abundantly clear from his Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms, several years before abolitionism took off, that he believed slavery to be evil and inhumane,” he added.

Sir Tom said that while he would be in favour of using “rigorous and impartial historical evidence” to give context to monuments, he noted that: “Edinburgh City Council does not have an acceptable track record in this regard.”

The council’s review has also been revealed to have targeted the statue honouring the Battle of Waterloo hero and prime minister the Duke of Wellington, accusing him of having “supported West India interests” and being pro-slavery — despite his government using the Royal Navy to help stamp out the trade after abolition.

The review has previously been reported to be targeting monuments celebrating Queen Victoria and Admiral Nelson, as well as Scotland’s national poet, Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns.

Last year, Edinburgh University removed the name of 18th century Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume from one of its buildings over his now politically incorrect opinions.

In February, the country’s oldest museum, the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum, announced the creation of a “curator of discomfort” to address historical and modern “white supremacy”.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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