The Enlightenment And A Desire For A Free Market

1769 words - 7 pages

“Men desire to have some share in the management of public affairs chiefly on account of the importance which it gives them.” This famous quote by Adam Smith proves what people in the Enlightenment period wanted the most – free market economy and public services. Adam Smith was, in fact, a Scottish economist, who tried to influence the government and convince the ruler to fulfil people’s wishes and needs. Such craving for an “adjustable” trade, led to the first major economic establishment in the Enlightenment period, laissez faire, which banned the government from interfering with private trade. Adam Smith, its huge supporter, managed to get this concept to disseminate safely with various rules and restrictions attached; otherwise, this method might allow too much freedom. The economy during the Renaissance period, transforming especially with Adam Smith’s innovative theories during the Enlightenment, focused on the urge to limit the government’s ability to interfere with the market.
Laissez faire was the first huge reformation of government and was, in fact, invented by common people. It is simply the idea of not letting the government interfere with peoples’ private businesses. This method dates back all the way to ancient China (200 BC). The people of Han and Ming dynasties argued over the government being an active participant in economy. They believed that regulated official prices and checked products would lead to an economic success. Confucius, on the other hand, believed that people should decide on their market themselves and have the full authority to advertise and sell their products in any way they wanted. Although the Han dynasty didn’t accept this idea, the Song and Ming followed laissez faire until their dynasties fell in the 1600s. Unfortunately, the ideas were never brought to Europe, because the Chinese didn’t mention laissez faire to voyagers, nor did they actually bother to take the concept outside of Asia. However, in 1700 France, the hope for free-market economy was brought back again by Vincent de Gournay who made slogans that said: “Laissez faire et laissez passer,” or in English, “Let us do and let it pass” (“Laissez Faire” - Wikipedia). From France, the new ideas quickly spread to England, where they were adapted, and eventually spread around Western Europe. The actual concept of laissez faire is basic, but compound, and as mentioned before, it is the idea of not letting the ruler interfere with segments of economy that didn’t belong to him. It is simply the idea of not letting the government interfere with peoples’ private businesses. Laissez faire, for example, did not allow any member of the government, including the monarch, to regulate prices of any shop, unless it belonged to the ruler. The rule, never officially established (it just happened and the government had to go along with it to avoid a revolution), also forbade the ban of selling certain products, unless, once again, the government was at least a...

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