In Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations
, he describes an "invisible hand" which is a metaphor for the idea that people acting in their own private interests will improve society as a whole. This principle of capitalism is an integral part of the modern market economy.
...every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. (Smith, <U>An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations</U>)