What is Speaking of Smith?

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Shanon FitzGerald for AdamSmithWorks

What is "Speaking of Smith," and what can you expect to see here in the future? 
Hey there Smith fans,

As you can already tell, we're doing something different in this space today. In lieu of the usual "Speaking of Smith" post, you have found here instead a brief explanation of how we the editors approach "Speaking of Smith," and a few words about what you can expect in this space going forward. I hope you will stick around for this brief update.

Regular readers know that Speaking of Smith is the intellectual playground at AdamSmithWorks. It is like a blog, in the sense that we regularly upload posts that are primarily text-based. But our authors are diverse and changing; we have an editorial staff; we commission posts and are open to receiving submissions from readers like you (submissions@libertyfund.org). Moreover, Speaking of Smith does not stand alone in cyberspace. It is one part of a content-rich site, AdamSmithWorks, which is itself part of a portfolio of web properties in the Liberty Fund Network, encompassing  Econlib, Law & Liberty, the Online Library of Liberty, and Liberty Fund's institutional webpage.

What, then, sets Speaking of Smith apart?

First, there's the dependable, twice a week regularity of our publications. We anticipate that this rate of publishing will only increase as the site matures. Speaking of Smith will thus remain the part of AdamSmithWorks where readers may come to find the freshest and most current content related to Adam Smith.

But Speaking of Smith is also defined by a commitment to exploring the widest possible range of Smithian insights, which goes beyond any single discipline. This space is animated by the belief that there is much for people living today to gain by engaging with Adam Smith and the ideas he set forth in his writings, in ways both holistic and more narrowly "academic." Speaking of Smith exists specifically to promote the former: the more general discussion of the thought of Adam Smith and his ideas. It is not the place for hyperscholastic Smith-afficianado-esotericism, but it will remain a hub of general-audience friendly writing that bridges academic and lay communities through the accessible discussion of Adam Smith. The point is for all participants in this site--readers, authors, editors--to grow, not revel in what they already know or feel excluded by what they do not.

This is why you can count on Speaking of Smith to remain a platform and a channel for a wide range of content related to the life, times, ideas, and legacy of Adam Smith. You won't find dense, inside-baseball accounts of battles being waged on the frontiers of Smith scholarship, or even much by way of technical analyses of the economic and social mechanics of Smith's thought. (Although, if these or other more traditional scholarly topics interest you, you should definitely check out our more-academic "Essays by Theme" section by clicking the "Learn" tab up top!)

Rather, in this space you will find articles that in some meaningful way touch upon something to do with Adam Smith, as well as our world today. Our editors work hard to ensure that Speaking of Smith pieces will feel relevant to you (although we would certainly love to hear from you if this is not the case!). Often our pieces engage with Smith's quotations and writings in their original context, but sometimes our authors will explore the enduring relevance of Smith's ideas, leading to posts that show us how Smithian insights still obtain in the present day. Simply browsing our archive of published pieces will confirm that Speaking of Smith provides a robust intellectual community where those interested in Smith's thought can read, learn, explore, and discover many new things about one of the eighteenth century's most memorable Scotsmen.

Looking forward, Speaking of Smith is the area of AdamSmithWorks where we the editors are most excited to see continued and additional audience engagement in the years ahead. We aim to cultivate a space where thoughts and ideas drawing from, or going back to Adam Smith can flourish. Your essays, articles, reflections, historical recipe ideas, and other posts will play a key part in realizing this vision. Our submissions line is always open, and we would love to hear from you. You can always reach out to us at submissions@libertyfund.org.

Smith fans of the world know that the whole enterprise of promoting the discussion of Smithian ideas has fallen on hard times. Critics of the left and of the right are wont to find many faults in Smith's "classical liberalism," and often rhetorically belittle those who would call for a rededication to the study of his core ideas. While we must not despair of these facts, it is important to acknowledge them. Smith is not a "star" figure in many circles, and such is the state of things.

Nevertheless, Smith is a thinker who reminds us to appreciate the long game, and when we take that perspective our current troubles--and Smith's current reputational "crisis"--appear to recede in significance. Industrious, betterment-seeking humans continue to divide labor, specialize, and exchange with one another, increasing the wealth of our nations. These same persons continue to feel moral sentiments, which Smith's writings continue to help us understand and analyze. I could go on.

But my point is simple: Adam Smith is as relevant as ever. Speaking of Smith is the place to come to appreciate this. We'll be publishing new content at least twice a week, and we hope you'll return to check it out.

Related Links:

Introduction to Adam Smith Reading List, Compiled by the AdamSmithWorks Advisory Board
Adam Smith Anti-Imperialist, by David Henderson
Five Great Books on Adam Smith, by Shanon FitzGerald