Liberalism 1.0: The Genealogy of Adam Smith’s Liberalism

Estefanía Campos  | 25 de octubre de 2017  | Vistas: 3088

Daniel Klein provides his version of the emergence of the original liberalism, culminating in Adam Smith, and dubbed by Klein “Liberalism 1.0.”

Starting, like Hayek, with human nature from the ancestral band, Klein explains the genealogy of liberalism 1.0 in a broad narrative:

  1. The ancestral band - Cohesionism
  2. Traditional society – Cohesionism (encompassing integration of high things and low things)
  3. Printing rocks their world
  4. The Reformation
  5. War of religion => religious toleration and freedom
  6. Refocusing government, law on lower things, and refining morality to distinguish low from high (without forsaking high!)
  7. Jurisprudence - Commutative justice (Grotius et al)
  8. Sanctification, moral authorization of pursuit of honest income => Innovation! (a neglected facet of Weber’s book)
  9. The conventionalist genius of David Hume – Jural dualism
  10. Commutative justice has flipside: liberty
  11. Stable polity in Britain—Liberalism presupposing stable polity
  12. Adam Smith: Moral authorizations of honest income and of presumption of liberty=> The Great Enrichment (McCloskey)
  13. With Adam Smith, “liberal” becomes the word.

Klein then goes on to sketch Karl Polanyi, the collapse of liberalism’s ascendancy, and the tragic, catastrophic shifts in outlooks, sentiments, and semantics 1880-1940—a tide in which we are still inundated.

Liberalism 1.0 is the spine of the modern open society and, presupposing stable polity, it leans against the governmentalization of social affairs."

Klein claims that left-leaners are untrue to Adam Smith, they are at odds with liberalism 1.0; one should not call them “liberal.”

Now watch: Semantic History of Liberalism


Economist, professor and author


Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín