: : : Nevertheless, I see laissez-faire capitalism to be an impossibility, given that larger capitalists would quickly invent a state to expand and perpetuate their wealth, be it company goons or a more formal structure like those currently existing. After all, the most efficient way for one to extract maximum profit is to either eliminate the competition or somehow regulate the competition. Any replies?
: : The pre-Civil War US was very close to true laissez-faire capitalism. Laissez-faire does not require the absense of government; rather, it requires no government regulation or control of the economy. What you are actually arguing is that a stateless system can't last, reguardless of its economic system.
: Actually I disagree. First, the Civil War was fought primarily on the disagreement between federal and state jurisidiction. The slavery issue was an agenda by Lincoln to divide the South as no mention was made in his Emanicipation Proclamation of freeing slaves in states not ceding from the union. The federal government favored industry in the North, and state sovereignty favored plantations in the South.
Don: The Civil War was fought for one reason: the South had left the Union, and the North used force to prevent this. The North did not have the Constitutional power to do this, and the Civil War basically proved that force makes right . . .
: Furthermore, the territory the U.S. "acquired" was the result of government intervention either by territorial purchase (Louisiana), war (Mexican War), of wholesale genocide of numerous Indian tribes. This "government" policy was prompted by wealthy men who had a great deal to gain by the natural resources (READ: commodities) to be gained by the rich mineral deposits in the Appalachians, the lush farmland along the Mississippi, and the gold prospect in California.
Don: It is clear that Jefferson agonised over the Louisiana purchase. He knew it was unconstitutional, and he felt it should be accomplished by amendment, but his advisors convinced him that wouldn't work. This purchase was done by the Jefferson administration, for the benifit of the United States, not buisness interests.
Don: The Mexicans were as much responsible for the Mexiacan American war as we were. It is true some wanted the war for expansion, or to expand the South to put off the dabate that ended in the Civil War. It is also true that Mexico hoped to win and get Texas back. They started off with a larger, more professional army--I fail to see why they should be seen as victims while the US is viewed as the agressor. The pro-war US contingint consisted of moderates who hopped to prevent a civil war, and pro-slavery people who wished to give the South greater political power. Not by the major buisness interests of the day.
Don: While the native American was often badly treated, to call it genocide requires a complete redefinition of the word. Further, the people who most wanted to get rid of the indians were the poor farmers in the west--not big buisness.
Don: Most of those who tried to take advantage of mineral deposits and new farmland were poor Americans or immigrants. Not the big capitalists.
: Additionally, most of the political and economic power were restricted to white males, excluding African Americans, women, Native Americans, and often poor white males from this wonderful "nearly laissez-faire" system you idealize.
Don: In fact, none of these groups were excluded.
: And what about tenant revolts and strikes squelched by state national guards working on behalf of property speculators and early industrialists?
Don: How many of these happened pre-1860 vs post-1860?