The Theory and Practice of Conspiracy
Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations in 1776, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The book was the result of twenty years of observation of human action and identification of the mechanisms and processes that lead to economic efficiency and to our well-being.
The book was written at a time when guilds had not yet completely disappeared, even though it was already known that the guild system was a brake on innovation and freedom of trade, that guilds were a limitation of economic freedom. This is precisely why Smith wrote:
Meetings of people in the same trade ought not to be facilitated, people of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.
Smith went on to say that the imposition by law of a professional register only facilitates meetings between members of the same profession. The state imposition of professional obligations, even at-first-glance-positive ones such as helping orphans or widows and professional taxes, means nothing more than an opportunity for the
Article from Mises Wire