Mill and Classic Laissez-Faire Liberalism

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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,...
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