The Wealth of Nations


I was halfway through section two of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital “The Dual Character of the Labour Embodied in Commodities.” when Adam Smith called around to fix the plumbing and heating. “Good lord, man, I’ve read your book — The Wealth of Nations 1776, what are you doing in my story?” Adam was fitting a division of labour into the new boiler — “it’ll work more efficiently” he said. I’d come across his work at Eton (Oh I was just temping as a Janitor there for a staff agency, nothing posh, my family had no dosh!) and some arrogant kid had dropped the book next to my toilet cleaning gear — “suck it up” he said “you loser”, and I did, I read it cover to cover and passed my Economics A level. I was thinking about the chapter in Marx “a commodity has two values — a ‘use value’ — it has to be useful and it also has an ‘Exchange-value’, which for Marx, is not identical to the money price. … The exchange-value of a good is determined by the socially necessary labour time required to produce the commodity.” when Adam Smith showed me how the new boiler worked. “I really value your work” I said “it will be most useful” After exchanging hard won cash for a receipt which itemised the Adam’s labour and parts input, I asked him for his thoughts on Fractional Reserve banking and how the banks create value (or cash) out of nothing these days by pressing digits on a computer — eg for loans or Quantitative Easing. “I’m just a plumber these days” said Adam ‘but check out a site called Positive Money’ and he rode off into the winds of time. Just then a thunder bolt hit the weather cock and Jim Morrison rode in, singing ‘Riders on the Storm’ with Arthur Rimbaud on the pillion. ‘We’re only here as symbolism’ said Jim, and so I made them coffee and put on Dylan’s ‘Shelter from the Storm’ (it seemed fitting at the time) and Arthur tried to explain to me how he derived his symbolism from alchemy and the Hermetic tradition. It was quite an afternoon with all these people turning up — I’d have hardly been surprised if Alice and the White Rabbit had turned up, but there was no sign of her. Jim and Arthur were on their way to visit Elvis, andI didn’t delay them. Instead, I went to the post office to buy a first class stamp when I saw Boris and Alice and the White Rabbit bantering inanely! “Hold on!” I said, “weren’t you the guy that dropped ‘The Wealth of Nations’ next to my bog brush and told me to ‘suck it up’ — well I did and I got the A level — so there! Oh, and by the way, where is all the ‘Wealth of the Nation’ these days — some say it’s stashed in a tax haven — what have you to say about that?” Boris continued to talk about Rabbits and hats to Alice, and I checked out of Wonderland counting my digitally derived “Surplus Value”…


From The Dawn Chorus of a Rural Rebel by Trev Teasdel