Foreword to Bryan's Book
Jerry Muller, a historian of economic thought, emailed me a paper that begins,
While there have been many historical instances of capitalism without liberal, representative democracy, there are no known cases of liberal, representative democracy without capitalism.
Some other interesting quotes:
One role of the intellectual in politics, for Burke, was to advise legislators to stand up to short-term political and moral pressures when they threaten long-term national economic interests.
…The government’s task was to protect middlemen, such as the “factor, jobber, salesman, or speculator, in the markets of grain,” from the ignorance and envy of farmers and consumers.
…In Considerations on Representative Government (1861), John Stuart Mill voiced the recurrent fear of nineteenth-century liberals that the political power of the non-property-owning majority in a democracy might have disastrous economic consequences.
The paper is called, “The democratic threat to capitalism,” and it appears in the current issue of Daedalus. Professor Muller says that the entire issue of the journal is on the theme of democracy and capitalism. I think of the paper as virtual forew
aord [thanks, Thomas for catching my spelling error]to Myth of the Rational Voter.
The remarks on Mill suggested something to me that I imagine that other people already knew. At the time of the Founding Fathers, restricting the vote to people with property was probably thought to be a great way to protect free markets from democratic redistributionism. The thinking must have been, “if you’ve got property, you won’t want it stolen by the government.” So keep the propertyless from voting.
What would be the equivalent today, when the main differences among people are not reflected in ownership of property but in human capital? I guess one could argue that only the well-educated should have the right to vote. Not for Bryan’s reason that they tend to know more economics. But for the reason that they are less likely to have class interests against the market.
Yes, I know that there are many in the elite whose stock in trade is opposition to capitalism. But suppose you take away the poorly-educated as a political constituency. Lou Dobbs might have to get a new act. I’m still not endorsing Caplan-esque elitism. Just sayin’…
By the way, Daedalus is the most Internet-hostile journal out there, as far as I can tell. Perhaps I am just a Google-klutz, but I cannot find so much as a table of contents for any issue, much less this one, which I would like to peruse. Can anyone help?
UPDATE: see the first two comments. Here is the table of contents for the issue I wanted.