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Autor: anton • December 13, 2010 • 1,047 Words (5 Pages) • 525 Views
Laissez-Faire Liberalism was/is an idea for a social movement
where citizens are able to conduct their market and personal lives as they see
fit without government interaction, which was widely promoted by A. Smith and
J. S. Mill. The only time it would be appropriate for the government to step
in is when it was crucial for the safety of the country or social structure
of the group in question. Liberals believed without a doubt that this movement
would result in the greatest possible efficiency of resources being used and
would allow the society to have its material wants satisfied to the fullest.
Citizens who contributed to this social structure were the ones who pursued
their own desires.
In all, the argument for laissez-faire is based upon the premise that free trade
and unregulated economic activity will enhance economic growth by stimulating
competitive enterprise. From what can be gathered, laissez-faire was produced
as a reaction to mercantilism. Mercantilism was the system of commercial controls
in which industry and trade, especially foreign trade was merely seen as means
of strengthening the state. This new capitalism tells us that happiness is pleasure
and to achieve this pleasure we need to satisfy our desires. Then in the consumers'
cases they need to buy goods to fulfill their desires where at the same time
the capitalists who are trying to make a profit off these consumers are trying
to fulfill their own desires. When it all works out it becomes a round about
subject. The capitalist who isn't going out of his way to purposely make the
consumer happy is still, in the end, doing just that. One capitalistic
entrepreneur makes a profit off of a consumer, which fulfills the entrepreneur's
desires, which in turn makes him happy. The consumer obtains a desired good
from the entrepreneur, which satisfies the consumer's desire, which in turn
makes him happy.
Wolff explains that the selfishness of this system would achieve what altruism,
selflessness, was never fully able to, which was to rationally and efficiently
produce the greatest happiness possible for the greatest number of people.
Its not much of a coincidence that about the time the American colonies were
beginning to show their want for independence from England that the laissez-faire
movement began to pick up wide spread support. Some of the major supporters
were the founders of America.
For a quick background, John Stuart Mills was the son of James Mill, a Scotsman
who came to London and became a leader in a radical group movement to further
the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham. James raised his son to continue
in his footsteps as philosophical leader. Shortly after his eighteenth birthday
in 1823, John threw himself into his father's work and began an active literary
career. His father got him a junior position in the company he worked for and
John quickly climbed the business ladder to eventually take over his father's
position. In 1826, John Stuart began to feel the pressures of walking his father's
path at such a young age and slipped into a deep state of depression. His mental
state continued for many months and all the while never leaving his job. Inside
he felt that his goals were not all they had been cracked up to be and only
through the poetry of Wordsworth was he able to find comfort.
The "position" taken by J. S. Mill was that he had come to question
many of the supporting ideas behind laissez-faire liberalism and Utilitarianism.
He took over where his father and David Ricardo had left off. Mill was also
an activist in self-development where he saw laissez-faire policies as the vehicle
for individual freedom.
Mill goes on to face moral dilemmas as he begins to doubt and disagree with
certain points of Utilitarianism, the philosophy he was brought up to defend.
Where his father's version of Utilitarianism explains that no one pleasure is
better then another, Mill explains in his essay, "Utilitarianism,"
that different people require different types and different quantities