Mercantilism and Progressives

Progressives usually tout that they want to use new ideas instead of old ideas. Then, they advocate economic policies that closely resemble mercantilism, the predominant economic policy of the European imperial powers in the 16th to 18th centuries that included protectionist measures such as tariffs, trade restrictions, monopolies created by monarch governments, and subsidies to promote domestic manufacturing and exports.  Mercantilism was essentially the regulation of the economy and it seemed to make sense on the surface. Thankfully, free market thinkers like Adam Smith (the father of modern economics) and John Locke demonstrated that this system was counterproductive and destructive. Mercantilism was mostly replaced with mostly free markets in several countries, notably England and the U.S., during the 19th century. However, western thought has gradually settled back into mercantilism since the 20th century, and progressives seem to love it.

One thought on “Mercantilism and Progressives

  1. This is a very interesting idea. Two questions.
    1. Can you comment on what recent ideas/policies are more similar to Mercantism?
    2. Do you feel government can still affect a free market without setting rules/regulations?

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