Of course, the dynamic but turbulent history of capitalism belies any invisible hand. The financial crisis that erupted in 2008 and the debt crises threatening Europe are just the latest evidence. Having lived in Mexico in the wake of its 1994 crisis and , I just saw the absence of any invisible hand as a practical fact. What shocked me, when I later delved into economic theory, was to discover that, at least on this matter, theory supports practical evidence.
(Ralph Ellison, 439) The Christian value system that saturates Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is exhibited in the invisible man’s struggle over whether humility is an appropriate virtue for him to pursue or just a handicap that enables him to be taken advantage of and oppressed by the powers that be....
Invisible Man is important not only in the literature world for its improvisational jazz-inspired style, but also in the political world for adding a new voice to the discussion about black in/visibility in America. Ellison depicts several ideologies in the novel that line up with the ideologies of , Marcus Garvey, and communism.
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In his book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Wealth of Nations” (1776), economist Adam Smith wrote, “Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can.” The invisible hand, a term he coined, describes what he called the natural correction of the market as the various participants attempt to maximize their profit. The market, he wrote, strikes its own balance thus making government intervention not only unnecessary but also undesirable. Not only the players but also all of society benefits from this invisible hand – so said Adam Smith. Huh.
This riveting production marks the Canadian premiere of The Invisible Hand by New York-born, Milwaukee-raised Akhtar, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013 for his play Disgraced, which won critical and audience acclaim at The Stanley last season. Richard Wolfe directs for Pi Theatre, a company always on the forefront of edgy, political theatre, and he brings together a superb cast of four for a tense, taut ninety minutes.
The Invisible Hand is theatre that makes you think and, perhaps, rethink. A quote from the playwright sums it up: “In our day and age, not to understand how deeply finance has informed and defined our relationships is to miss an important part of what it means to be alive right now, in this civilization.”