Adam Smith was a Scottish Economist and Philosopher who is known as the “Father of Modern Economics”. His greatest works include The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and The Wealth of Nations (1776) out of which the latter became his magnum opus and is under discussion today.
In Book 3, Chapter 1, “Of the Natural Progress of Opulence”, the liaison between Towns and Country are discussed. According to Smith, Country presents products of raw produce from harvests and dairies while the Town presents products in the form of manufactured goods.
The liaison between them is established by the inhabitants of both who exchange their products and both profit mutually from their exchanges. The Towns survive on the rude produce of the Country while providing them a market to sell their surplus produce. In return, the Country gets manufactured town products along with a profit to get rid of the surplus.
Furthermore, their relationship is such that no Town can exist without the Country as subsistence is a priority over luxury as Smith says “As subsistence is, the nature of things…” (Smith 2007, 296).
While Towns make the goods and products of luxury and convenience, the Country ensures the sustenance of the inhabitants of the Town. This is why the improvement and development of the Country is important and should be the always done before the improvement and development of the Town and only then should there be a development or improvement in towards Foreign Commerce. As per Smith, this is the natural progression of things except for a few modern states of Europe, where foreign commerce has influenced highly refined manufacturing in the Towns and resulted in a development of the Country which he considers as an “unnatural and retrograde order.
” (Smith 2007, 298).
In Book 3, Chapter 3, “Of the Rise and Progress of Cities and Towns, After the Fall of The Roman Empire”, the imbalance in the lives of the inhabitants of the Country, Original Townsmen and the Burghers is discussed. The Fall of the Roman Empire left the cities and towns largely populated by generally humble tradesmen and mechanics who paid taxes to travel, cross bridges, use roads and even erect stalls. These taxes were accumulated by a king or a sovereign with authority who in special circumstances, exempted some particular people from general taxes in return of a single rent. These relatively free townspeople, attained a
social class and are referred to as “Burghers”. Unlike the other common Townsmen with variable taxes and Countrymen who paid variable rent for their lands, this rent was at a fixed rate provided on behalf of their sovereign, king or protector.
Kings or Sovereigns or the time were always under threat from the general nobility which is why this relationship prospered as the Burghers offered reliable political and military support while the king reduced their variable taxes to a fixed rate and granted them extra legal and economic autonomy while still maintaining order in the Towns. These privileges lead to the rise and prosperity of Towns whereas the Country still was still exposed to violence and disorder. Although the Country is substantial to the sustenance, many countrymen collected their stock or goods overtime and made a run for the Town to join the life of the townsmen.
Furthermore, in Book 3, Chapter 3, “Of the Rise and Progress of Cities and Towns, After the Fall of The Roman Empire”, Smith discusses about Towns sustained on Foreign Commerce in Country Goods. As per Smith, “But those of a city, situated near either the sea coast or the banks of a navigable river, are not necessarily confined to derive them from the country in the neighborhood.” (Smith 2007, 313). As per the text, Smith seems extremely keen about this idea as this opens up opportunities to trade with countries much poor and in wretchedness which leads towards more opulence in the Town. Adam Smith gives the example of Italy, where this foreign trade and commerce lead to the Townsmen of Italy to become overwhelmingly rich and luxurious as he says, “Cities of Italy seem to have been the first in Europe which were raised by commerce to any considerable degree of opulence.” (Smith 2007, 313).
In Book 3, Chapter 4, “How the Commerce of Towns Contributed to the Improvement of the Country”, gives an insight into how the increased riches of Towns ultimately improved the cultivation of their dependent Country. These improvements in the Country occurred in three ways.
The First Way, of improving the cultivation of the Country was by provision of a local market to the Country for its raw products. This market leads to the improvement and cultivation of both the Country lifestyle and their products by giving them a local trade spot, reducing the cost to the product and increasing profits while also saving time to the buyer.
The Second Way, of improving the cultivation of the Country was by the City and Townsmen who used their accumulated wealth to buy uncultivated land. Such usually Merchants, as said by Adam Smith, wish to be “Country Gentlemen” (Smith 2007, 317) and can afford to make improvements to the country standards with innovations rather than other original countrymen who just barely cover expenses.
The Third Way, of improving the cultivation of the Country was reduction of “Feudalism” and the Gradual Introduction of an Order of Governance. Commerce and Manufacture gradually shall induce “Liberty and Security” for individuals who are in rivalries and under feudal superiors.