Paper delivered to Political Economy Lockdown Seminar Series
On May 11th 2020 I presented a version of the paper that I will be delivering 'in' Newcastle the following week to the online Political Economy Lockdown Seminar Series. The paper was entitled, 'A Failure of System or a Failure of Nerve? Adam Smith's Conspicuous Soft-Pedalling on the Imperial Adventures of Glasgow's Eighteenth-Century Tobacco Merchants'. In it, I focused on the apparent bifurcation in Smith's critique of Empire, in which the activities of the East India Company were subjected to a withering attack, but the activities of the merchants trading within the Atlantic economy were criticised much more gently, despite being different only in degree rather than in type. Smith's obvious contempt for the East India Company resulted from what he had learnt about the way in which it was intertwined with London's commercial interests to disrupt good governance norms, but the Glasgow tobacco merchants he counted amongst his friends and acquaintances were let off lightly by comparison.