Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Man Behind "The Invisible Hand"

by AnnaBeth Crittenden
Marketing Intern

In our previous show, The Invisible Hand, playwright Ayad Ahktar explored the relationship between money, power, and belief. Throughout this thrilling drama, several textbook economic theories were brought to light, the most prevalent of which can be found in the play's title. The theory of the invisible hand comes from Adam Smith, an economist who held revolutionary beliefs on capitalism in the 1700s.

In the play, Nick Bright explains the title's concept to Bashir saying, "It's what they call an invisible hand...the market is shaped by everyone's self-interest like an invisible hand moving it all along." In his book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith further expounds that this self-interest would cause consumers to buy the cheapest and best goods, fostering competition among vendors. This, in turn, allows the market to rise and fall as if guided by this invisible hand.

While Smith's theories are widely accepted in the economic community, there are potential side effects to his phenomenon of capitalism.

The character of Iman Saleem argues, "I believe money is the opiate of life, not religion. Money is what puts people to sleep when it comes to the moral dimension of life." As the play unfolds and the sum of the money obtained by the characters begins to rise, both captive and captor begin to lose their morals, leaving everyone to be guided only by their self-interest.

Since Adam Smith's 1,264 page book, The Wealth of Nations might be considered a daunting read for some, we've hand-selected a few snippets for you that may help shed insight into today's economic society.

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