Each Man for Himself

IDEAS

Philosophers have argued for centuries about the best means for longs to regulate trade and increase the riches of their kingdoms. But according to this season's new work by Scottish Professor Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (London, W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 2 vols.; £! 16 shillings), they are all wrong. The best course for governments is to do as little as possible.

What does Smith mean by that seemingly innocent phrase, "wealth of nations"? Not, as...