While free market economics is regarded by many today as an old conservative idea, it was in fact one of the most revolutionary concepts to emerge in the long history of ideas. For centuries, landmark intellectual figures from Plato to Machiavelli had discurssed which principles wise thinkers might propose to guide personal, social, and political actions or which policies wise leaders might impose for the benefit of society in various ways. Now, for the first time, it was argued that--in the economy at least--all of this was giving "a most unnecessary attention," in Adam Smith's words, to things that could be sorted out better by vast numbers of individuals interacting with one another, and making their own mutual accommodations, than by those who presumed to guide them from above.
The idea of a spontaneously self-equilibrating system--the market economy--first developed by the physiocrats and later made part of the tradition of classical economics by Adam Smith, represented a radical departure, not only in analysis of causation but also in seeing a reduced role for political, intellectual, or other leaders as guides or controllers of the masses. Even today, many have not grasped the full implications of self-equilibrating interactions or have not been able to accept the humbling thought that their own presumably superior wisdom and virtue might be superfluous, if not damaging.All I can say is the wrong African-American is in the White House.