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Flax was a major industry because of the ease of production. The prosaic nature of the homespun ideal led it to be the symbol of the revolution. It also induced progress. Benjamin Franklin referred to it as the "first Ages of the world." But this was linked to European finery, historically made from the animal skins of the Indians, who did not have a cloth-making industry. In his 1787 Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson declared all forms of manufacturing, including household, as a mortal threat to American virtue. As the American president in 1806, he drew the attention of Cherokee chiefs on the civilizing effect of spinning and weaving their own cotton cloths. In 1812, Jefferson and John Adams agreed to a common homespun vision of commercial progress (Zakim).
The overall view is that capitalism threatens or hinders democracy (Muller 2007). Capitalism involves an inequality of reward, while democracy draws from the concept of equality. The inequality and the influence of the wealthy over the politically powerful deter the equality guaranteed by democracy. On the other hand, there is an argument for the compatibility of the two ideologies. Democracy checks on the rough edges of capitalism and renders capitalism more legitimate. The transfer of payments from the rich to the poor and insurance against illness, unemployment and old age are examples. The market is seen as likely to more efficient than representative democracy. Adam Smith explained in his "Wealth of Nations" that productivity would increase with market expansion. Supply and demand, not political assent or will, dictate prices. These prices, in turn, provide monetary incentives to businesses, landlords and workers to place their resources where they will be of the greatest profit for them. Prices and wages also point to where effective demand is greater than supply can be found. These indicate that when the competitive market becomes more productive, efficient and innovative, the standard of living necessarily goes up. And a rising standard of living conduces to democracy (Muller).
A growing economy also discourages political conflict in that it encourages the redistribution of wealth (Muller 2007). The income of some may increase but not at the expense of others. The market will operate most effectively if every citizen can sell labor, invest capital, or rent land in a way that will promote his self-interest. But Adam Smith emphasized that most of European society and government structurally discourage the movement of labor, capital, goods and land. He, instead, believed that it would be to the public interest for citizens to course their interest through the market. Yet he believed that the individual business would sacrifice the competitive market for its business interest. It would use all available resources to avoid or prevent competition in securing the highest possible prices for its goods or service. He asserted that this would be the overall tendency among businesses. Merchant would be similarly inclined in persuading those in power that what they wanted would be equivalent to the general interest (Muller).
The individual citizen is repeatedly subjected to the influence of both favorable and unfavorable experiences (Muller 2007). As voters, citizens promote their self-interest through politics. And this placing of self-interest above public or common interest is what democracy precisely considers a corrupt practice. Of the many national issues that illustrate this, the most important is the acquisition of profit. Experience shows that voters react promptly and willingly to the inducement. This necessarily depletes the power of democracy. These voters display their corruption and their being bad judges of their own interests. It is only when voters are better informed and when they give their choice sufficient reflection that the inducement diminishes. The hazards inflicted by democracy to liberal capitalism imply the absence of clear solutions. These are created by economic ignorance of politicians and voters alike, the forces of envy and guilt and other forces, which lead to inflation. These hazards present themselves as inherent in capitalist democracy (Muller).
Anderson, Kim. Liberal Capitalism: the Will to Happiness. Policy: the Centre for Independent Studies, Summer 2007
Lowell National Historical Park. Early American Manufacturing. National Park Services:
US Department of the Interior, 2002. Retrieved on October 8, 2008 at http://www.nps.gov/archive/lowe/loweweb/Lowell_History/earlyam.htm
Muller, Jerry Z. The Democratic Threat to Capitalism. Daedalus: MIT Press Summer,
Zakim, Michael. Sartorial Ideologies. Vol 106 number 5,…[continue]
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