The Instigator
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0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
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Karl Marx > Adam Smith

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/15/2014 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,460 times Debate No: 61777
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)




I will argue that Karl Marx was a better economist, sociologist, and a more revolutionary person than Adam Smith AKA "Father of Economics" creator of the 'invisible hand'.

1st Round Acceptance


I accept. This is my first debate. However, from the outset let me state we cannot compare Adam Smith and Karl Marx as sociologists since that designation does not fit Smith but it does for Marx. Therefore, I will grant that Karl Marx was a better sociologist on all counts only because Adam Smith was not one. Yet if my opponent wants to debate the merits of the two men as “political theorists or political thinkers” in broad terms that is more than far. From the proposition, I gather the crux of the argument and main contention between both sides will stem from each man’s accomplishments as economist. Anyway, as noted earlier this is my first debate, and I did not know whether the proposition was negotiable. If not, my argument will fail to address the sociologist claim given the term and its popularly in western literature is more of a nineteenth than eighteenth century usage. Anyway, go luck too my opponent. Hope I did not screw up on how this thing works.

Debate Round No. 1


No problem sir,
In that case, my one point (Sociologist) has already been won and awarded to Mr. Marx.

Why Adam Smith is not so great:
Number one Adam Smith didn't have a lot of connection or realization of the world. He lived in late 18th century Scotland and many factors that attribute to making a just economy haven't been exposed yet.
Monopolies were not a 'thing' yet in his time, especially his area because the Monarch had full control over all even down to the extreme local level of production. Also the invisible hand is not real unless you assume that all the people are not ignorant.
Also he didn't really grasp the whole idea of money = incentive = greed. Adam Smith assumed that all people would be united and caring to others in a pure capitalistic society. Which can never be the case because the real root is independent spirit and of course money and power as well.
Adam reacted harshly to how the monarch ran things and took the answer into the wrong direction. People love looking back in their countries history when it was almost a pure free market economy. But no one would like to be living in those times as well. Also with the revolutionary part Adam Smith never inspired any nations to have violent or non-violent overthrows of government to implement a free market. Also he did not aspire America to be like that,
Wealth of Nations came out the same day as the signing of independence from Britain.

Why Karl Marx is better:
The idea in the Communist Manifesto of Pure-Communism is a perfect idea on paper and can be perfect as well in large scale reality, yet the way to achieve these goals gives one or very men immense power and never really works out well.
The issue though is His thinking and philosophy is way smarter than Smith's.
He noticed class distinctions and serious abuse from the capitalists; which is very true even to this day.
He also invented a system that can solve all those issues. You need a country with strong national identity to work, unlike when Smith he lived in a Kingdom composed of many different nationalities. English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, American, etc.
Karl was a much stronger influence because he aspired the Revolution of Russia and then eventually 70% of the worlds land mass was controlled by a control-economic system. Even though it is hard to have a pure communistic state but it is harder for pure capitalism because we are not angels and must have governments. Also humans are corrupt and will use capitalism for the capitalist's advantage.
See ya next round!


Pro provided a broad overview of both political economic thinkers, although by all accounts it is partial and incredibly simplistic and does not delve into the complexities and nuances that have elevated and allowed both men to endure for more than a century as great modern thinkers. Con will only address the Smith for the moment, although the Marx argument could be more interesting than the initial case presented.

I will paraphrase and parse the arguments made by Pro against the legacy of Smith (and please if my paraphrases are inaccurate please demonstrate where and how I did so in the next round).

Pro arguments thus far boil down to the following:

Argument 1 is given a through rebuttal in Con’s arguments; Argument 2 is rebutted following the paraphrase.

  1. 1. Smith lacked an authentic connection what we might conceive of as modernity, monopolies were not prevalent for Smith to anticipate changes including the erosion of mercantilism. And the “invisible hand is not real unless you assume that all people are ignorant,” is a statement I would include in this section but frankly do not understand what Pro means by this. He can clarify in the subsequent round. Smith was naive about the nature of man, and therefore was susceptible to the creation of impractical economic theory.

  1. 2. Pro makes a couple of other points that I will note. They are not relevant or historically accurate, therefore do not require a rebuttal. Pro states Smith reacted harshly to mercantilist policies administered by his ministers and advisers. Also, there are some superfluous and extraneous comments that indicate Smith should be held to a lower standard because in the words of pro “Adam Smith never inspired any nation to have a violent overthrow.” Argument three in my estimation is not a serious argument unless inspiring “a violent overthrow” of a country to establish the USSR or Mao’s China is a value. This is the antithesis of value itself. Moreover, Pro comments led one to infer that Smith espoused a radical doctrine intended to overthrow governments. Obviously, whatever construction of Smith Pro appears to be erecting is as solid as a Potemkin village.

Con rebuttal & arguments
1. Smith as a great forecaster of large economic trends (hopefully the actual writing of Smith will provide a more accurate picture than that provided by Pro):

Not only did Smith foresee the slow erosion of mercantilism, but also he was very critical of incorporation and the corporation as an economic entity. In Wealth of Nations Smith already noted the contradictions and ambiguity—even pointed out its clear lack of fiduciary responsibility inherent to its structure. Smith says of the corporate form: “The directors of such companies, however, being the managers rather of other people’s money than their own, it cannot well be expected that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which the partners in a private copartnery frequently watch over their own.”[1] Smith added, “[n]egligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less in the management of the affairs of such a company.”[2] Surely, this alone debunks and refutes by way of Smith himself the majority of Pro’s arguments, specifically arguments one and two. However, since I used two long quotations from Smith, I should explain the point I want people to discern. Unlike the characterization of Smith as unaware or disconnected from the reality of greed or how economic systems are often replete with the worst forms of greed and reckless quiddity, he realized and expressed his fear it would develop even worse when if there was a transformation from a partnership (the dominant form) to the corporate form (slowly developed alongside the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century) because the corporate form gave men the power to guard the money of others and do with it what they pleased. He thought the inevitable result was fraud, financial speculation, and lack of responsible for one’s business decisions.

2. Argument Two: Smith provided a more valuable economic theory than Marx and may have been more cynical than Marx if not as critical concerning the contradictions embodied in capitalism.

Question: What did Adam Smith believe history reveals about the economy, especially those empowered with wealth and political influence? I will let Smith speak for Smith:


“All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”[3]

I just wanted to clarify what Adam Smith believed and actual wrote about in Wealth of Nations.

3. Argument Three: Invisible hand—rarely do people read Smith’s single passage about the invisible hand, so let heretofore comments stand as both a defense of Smith and function as a way to solve a personal frustration with people that use “invisible hand” and then inaccurately pontificate about Smith’s theories

One of the problems with Smith is that no one actual reads Smith, either they worship it or ridicule Smith without taking the painstaking effort to actual read the book in its totality. The most pervasive abuse of Smith’s work derives from quotes about “the invisible hand.” Most people have a conception of it without actually reading the one passage where the he uses the phrase. The context, while overlooked, illuminates the intellectual depth of Smith, but also one shortcoming. When Smith talks about the invisible hand, it essentially highlights the flaws of modern neo-liberal economic doctrine. Adam Smith was concerned that if there was free movement of capital and free imports of goods then Britain will suffer because British capitalist will invest abroad, they will import from abroad, and such a system would hurt the economy. Then he gave an argument (and here let me say this is where Smith’s invisible hand argument fails): Smith says this will not occur because English capitalists will prefer England because of a home biases and there as if by an invisible hand England will be save from free capital movement and free imports.

There are other interesting directions yet to go but I will save them for the next round.

[1] Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.. Book V, ch1 paragraph 107

[2] Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations Book V, ch1 paragraph 107

[3] Chapter IV, p. 448. (or

Debate Round No. 2


Rebuttals and arguments taken from the way you like to debate two can that game.

Argument 1:
"...even pointed out its clear lack of fiduciary responsibility inherent to its structure. Smith says of the corporate form: "The directors of such companies, however, being the managers ..""

Okay I hand it over, Smith realized you must have some hierarchy in a businesses such as McDonald's, or Casino's.
Smith thought like a capitalist and sense he was successful in life he thought in a upper class manor.
You must put this in context, his context and timing were a perfect storm creating a book on how to survive capitalism. He saw the future in how Manufacturing over Slave labor will come. Scotland and the UK ended slavery way before the USA. He was very self independent and a educated business man.

2. "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."
Sounds like a British social Darwinist, harsh cruel independent anti-state against his own people. Or be like Hitler and decided to make the 'best race' the only race.
Marx was a man of common dignity. Shown here:
"Society does not consist of individuals but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand." A sense of bond with your family, and then a bond with your neighbors and then with your country men and ultimately and always bond with God.
3. "...rarely do people read Smith"s single passage about the invisible hand,..."
Every high school student in the state of Michigan and probably almost the rest of the US all of us Americans know and learn 1st day of simply Economics, Adam "Father of Economics" Smith Creator of the basis of free market an invisible hand.
Marx realized when money is incentive, money equals root of all evil - Paul of Tarsus. Karl understood that money also equals greed and that makes massive about of poor people, very few rich people and the 'peoples government' can't do anything? No cruelty without representation. Don't tread on me, let me tread on you my state, my people, my god.

*** SIDE NOTE ***
We are debating the men, not what or how the systems work in reality, Stalin was evil and if pure capitalism exists it is called Somalia.


I agree with Pro:

“We are debating the men, not what or how the systems work in reality…” (!)

This is great news, my opponent thereby agrees that every rebuttal against Smith is invalid based on the logic and reason state by Pro quoted above. Please voters, please adhere to Pro’s wishes.

So concluding argument based on Pro’s desire the debate focus “not what or how the system work[ed] in reality.” Great, let’s talk about pure theory, devoid of concrete reality or concrete application of theory in the world.

Smith’s purely theoretical model of capitalism is undoubtedly superior to Marx’s purely theoretical model of communism. Why? In Smith we read from his theory no talk of violence, no talk of revolution, and no talk of the overthrow of existing governments; in Marx the opposite is true. And again we are only talking about theory, just theory (based on Pro's claim at the end of last round that critcism based on actual communists regimes and actual communists crimes, best exemplified by Stalin's Soviet Union should not count because that is application of communism and not how the theory works). I agree, this saves me a lot of time anyway.

1. Marx communist vision, even at the level of pure theory talked about revolution and the overthrow of capitalism and governments supporting a capitalist economic system. So I exclude every real communist regime, I only want to highlight the necessity of violence innate to Marxian pure theory. Again, I agree with Pro, let’s not get caught up in reality.

Smith capitalist model
, at the level of theory says that capitalism as a theoretical exercise could lead to global peace by relationships established by trade, this would inevitably increase global economic production, which in turn could allow for an infinite and exponential rise in the standard of living, and the subsequent result would be world peace, infinite economic growth, creating a workers paradise—all without disrupting any government whether they be monarchies or democracies or something else and all without theoretical violence or the violent overthrow of established governments.

Why voters should Vote Con, because Pro invalidates every point made against Smith throughout the debate

Pro’s desire to assess theory not implementation means every point made against Smith is null and irrelevant since it failed to tackle the theory and concentrated on how capitalism works in reality.

By Pro’s logic, any remark against Smith should not count given they never addressed the theoretical but the facts and implementation of theory into practice.

Voters should accept Pro’s wish not to deal with reality but only theory

Ancillary matters:

Pro said he gets a point because I concede the Smith was not a sociologist (since sociology became an intellectual discipline more than a hundred years after Smith’s death). I will concede that but only in Pro concede to use his own logic and in the comments section concedes his complete lack of intelligence based on his lack of detailed and accurate forecast of the economy, politics, and intellectual movements—standards he held Smith too and logically would apply to himself. But only two options exist here:

(1) Either Pro’s concedes the logic of his arguments are fallacious and invalid

(2) Or Pro’s concedes that he lacks any intelligence based of his lack of detailed foreknowledge of the future events including trends in the economy in 100 years

If one is true then this is a matter for voters

However, if two is true Pro should obviously should concede in the comments section after the debate (absence of concession in comments section will be read as implicit concession of outcome one).

Thanks for the debate. It was entertaining, to say the least. Please listen to Pro, voters should assess pure theory and not actual practice.

Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
Communism is government being the central command of peoples lives. Individualism is disacouraged, even to the point of a firing squad.And the American government under Woodrow wolson and every democrat after him has put this largely in play. And of course it never works. It produces poverty , not prosperity. And to hide this scheme they had to increase debt. Now to the tune of $18,000,000,000,000.00.

Socialism is what government uses to usurp power away from the individual into the hands of government.confiscating by government force ( law ) a persons earned wealth and giving it to those who never earned it. Just for their votes. making slaves of them.The democrat masters say ," JUMP," and their subjects ask, " HOW HIGH ,MASSA,JUST THROW US SOME WELFARE CRUMBS."
Posted by Keeyan 2 years ago
@cheyennebodie You still haven't given the reason you believe America has been communist/socialist for decades. If you're going to define ANY form of government power as communism/socialism then every single nation on Earth is somehow communist/socialist. It should also be noted that in no way are communism and socialism the same concept.

At least we agree that the Kardashians are a pox on humanity.
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
Keeyan: Wec have had the influence of communism and socialism since Woodrow Wilson.And the greta depression is because of roosevelts communist and socialist policies.And as long as any democrat have power we wil be a socialist ( freeloader) society. Capitalism has had to fight off communism and socialism for decades. And the decades of socialism has caught up with us. Thus the recession we are now in.Almost $ 18,000,000,000,000,.00 in debt. Real unemployment and underemployment even greater than under Roosevelt.

And I see too many Americans wondering what will befall the Kardashians.Producing the largest low information voter in our history.
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
faustian: The first 60 years of America had slave labor. And that was not as widespread as thought. And whatever wealth was accumulated during that time was wiped out in the civil war.The south was devastated. But free enterprise capitalism brought it to come roaring back.And I do agree, strife over the end of slavery brought hard times for blacks. But that was fueled by democrats.

It is not arrogance that is bringing our economy down. But we now have, thanks to democrats ,a freeloader society.

And labor unions were not formed to protect wages, but safety.Now we have laws to protect people in the work place.That is why labor unions are only 17% of the work force, with the exception of public unions.Even that communist, Roosevelt thought that was a bad idea.

And the reason we have never had an invader is the second amendment.The Japanese during WW2 had plans to invade the western U.S.right after Pearl Harbor. They had sunk practically our entire pacific fleet That plan was scrapped because the Japanese military command made the statement that if they invaded America, they would have to face a gun pointing at them from behind every blade of grass.
Posted by FaustianJustice 2 years ago
"America was once the most capitalistic nation ever in history. And we created the richest middle class ever.Everybody benefited. The wealthy got richer. And they spread their wealth the right way. By building and improving their possessions.That gave those doing the improving a piece of the pie."

I'm sorry, what? The first century of American had a slave labor pool. Literally. Then we all agreed (through force of arms :cough: ) that slavery was bad... dumping that labor pool of both skilled and unskilled to compete against and in the middle class. Labor unions then specifically were developed to protect wages on the matter, until industrialization became commonplace. After that, the invention (and failure to understand) of new financial instruments cratered the economy, and it required a war to bring us back out. Not surprisingly, since the US wasn't nuked, didn't have an invader, have their country firebombed, or tanks rolled across it, it emerged as the major economy until arrogance set in, and we didn't respect the curve of technology.
Posted by Keeyan 2 years ago
Are we just going to jump over the Great Depression? And Great Recession for that matter? And the millions of Asians, Africans, and Middle Easterners worker for a couple of cents per day? And in what universe has the US been socialist and communist for decades?
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
Keeyan: History does not bear your statement out.America was once the most capitalistic nation ever in history. And we created the richest middle class ever.Everybody benefited. The wealthy got richer. And they spread their wealth the right way. By building and improving their possessions.That gave those doing the improving a piece of the pie.

Lets look at America today after decades of socialism and communism. We now have the weakest middle class since the Roosevelt induced great depression.All the democrat legislation has finally caught up with us.The only solution if we are to return to our former glory is to kick the democrats out of office and put true conservatives ( capitalists) into office. As long as people vote for someone that will give them government freebies, we will continue on our decline.

In fact, when Obama took office he put together a team that will manage America's decline. What were the people in America thinking when they voted for this guy?
Posted by Keeyan 2 years ago
Let's be fair.
Capitalism: "The freedom to decide on a price between two or more people that they both will agree on." This is true. Unbridled and on a large scale will eventually lead to extreme poverty and extreme exploitation in some areas, and prosperity in a concentrated small one.
Communism: The elimination of all government apparatuses, private ownership of the means of production, and private property. Highly unlikely to succeed considering the majority of humans are selfish bastards.

Attempting either eventually leads to screwing a lot of people.
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
Lets define each of the isms. Capitalism. The freedom to decide on a price between two or more people that they both will agree on.When I walk into a store, the price is posted. I can either buy it or go somewhere else if I do not agree on the price.And the agreed upon price is the free movement of capital ( money) between the two.And the only thing that would manipulate the price without the consent of the parties is government intervention.Once government interferes, the price is always higher.

Communism: The taking of freedom from the producers and buyers to decide on a price, even the quality of the product, by government.And people who cannot succeed in their own business gravitate to government.

Fascism: That is when people who do not want to improve their skills to increase in wealth, tell government that they would vote for them if they would just force business to pay them more. Similar to communism.

Socialism. That is when people who do not to take responsibility for their own lives will tell politicians that they will vote for them if they will government force ( law0 to force some one else to pay the bills they have accumulated. For some reason these people feel they are entitled to another man's labor.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ameliamk1 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's case was composed of weak, mostly unsubstantiated claims that communism is better than capitalism...which would at least make sense in a debate on that topic. In reality, this debate, instigated by Pro, was on whether Karl Marx was a better economist/forecaster than Adam Smith. Pro failed at this, and Con offered a very impressive first debate. Well done.
Vote Placed by FaustianJustice 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: It was demonstrated that Smith didn't have the rosy out look, did have an idea of how bad people could be. I think Con simply brought a stronger case.