The Scotsman: Adam Smith recruited to city's army of statues

By Mark McLaughlin and Duncan Bick (July 1 2008)

FOR a man regarded as a giant of political thinking, his arrival could have been deemed a little undignified.

Yet after being lowered into place on his plinth, a statue of Adam Smith – the man regarded as the father of modern economics – took its rightful place in the heart of the Capital's Parliament Square.

The bronze was hoisted into place outside St Giles' Cathedral, ahead of a two-day series of events commemorating his life due to begin on Friday.

The statue, created by celebrated Scottish sculptor Alexander Stoddart, took its place outside the historic City Chambers.

The statue was welcomed by Paul Downie owner of the nearby Loch Ness 3D Experience. He said: "The way it's been done is in keeping with the rest of the Royal Mile."

Royal Mile stallholder Bobby the Tarot reader had doubts though. He said: "It's being opened a month before the Festival. It's just going to get stickered, postered and vandalised."

Dr Eamonn Butler, director of the Adam Smith Institute, which commissioned the statue, said: "Adam Smith is buried in the Canongate churchyard but the monument there isn't very impressive, and you have to venture through the gravestones and bushes of the churchyard to get to it which can be very dark and foreboding.

"We felt that it would be good to have proper monument nearby.

"The site is ideal for a number of reasons. First of all, Adam Smith used to work near the site where the chambers are now.

"Secondly, it's the site of an old market ground and he was, of course, a great believer in markets and free trade.

"Thirdly, it looks down the hill, beyond the Canongate and on to the seat of Fife where Smith was born."

The statue is packed with symbolism representing the man's image and the things he represented throughout his life.

Behind him is a ploughshare which represents the old world order where people believed the economy revolved around agriculture and the shifting seasons.

Smith's ideas would help change that world view as the world shifted away from agriculture, and in front of him is a beehive, representing the world of industry that Smith foresaw.

Bees are traditionally seen as industrious, and Smith's cloaked hand can be seen resting on the beehive, representing the "Invisible Hand" of self-interest as an engine of community cohesion – a central plank of Smith's philosophy.

The statue is due to be officially unveiled on Friday.


Published by The Scotsman here


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