invisible hand


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invisible hand

a term used by Adam Smith (1776) to indicate the way in which the pursuit of individual self-interest in a free market actually ensures the maximum overall benefit for everyone. Smith's arguments have typically been employed by the NEW RIGHT in promoting the deregulation of labour markets and the doctrine of minimalist government.
References in classic literature ?
I afterwards found that these labours, performed by an invisible hand, greatly astonished them; and once or twice I heard them, on these occasions, utter the words `good spirit,' `wonderful'; but I did not then understand the signification of these terms.
The hand holding the candle protruded from that envelope which the other invisible hand clasped together under her very chin.
There is the invisible hand that swept your table clear of silver and melted into air.
It was enough, when you thought it over, to give you the idea of an immense, potent, and invisible hand thrust into the ant-heap of the earth, laying hold of shoulders, knocking heads together, and setting the unconscious faces of the multitude towards inconceivable goals and in undreamt-of directions.
We lived in an uninterrupted course of ease and content for five years, when a sudden blow from an almost invisible hand blasted all my happiness, and turned me out into the world in a condition the reverse of all that had been before it.
All the while, Clennam was pursuing the probabilities--rather as if they were being shown to him by an invisible hand than as if he himself were conjuring them up--of Mr Flintwinch's ways and means of doing that darker deed, and removing its traces by any of the black avenues of shadow that lay around them.
Whence the coal came, and how brought thither by an invisible hand, I have never been able to discover.
They had been pacing up and down the terrace while they talked, and now one by one the dark windows were uncurtained by an invisible hand, and panes of light fell regularly at equal intervals upon the grass.
We are sorest bent and troubled by invisible hands.
Lifted through the air, exchanged into invisible hands that drew him through a narrow diameter of brass into a lighted room, Michael looked about him in expectancy of Jerry.
Standard theory, dating back to Adam Smith, had argued that in perfect markets, the pursuit of self-interest by firms and households would lead, as if by an invisible hand, to the well-being of society,' Stiglitz said.
Those who revere the invisible hand theory certainly miss the point that most Western interference in our part of the world occurs through overt, quite visible means.