Saturday, April 24, 2010

Convergence of Capitalism and Communism, Circa 1931

From the News from 1930 blog:
Editorial by T. Woodlock: Sen. Nye intends to modify antitrust laws to “protect the small manufacturer ... and merchant.” This is a misunderstanding of the laws, whose purpose is to preserve competition and competitive prices, not guarantee success; competition “means ... a winner and a loser.” Our attitude toward antitrust law comes from the dominant theory early in the industrial revolution that “free and unlimited competition of individuals” assures “the greatest good of all”; this contrasts with the Socialist principle of complete cooperation. However, our much more complex modern economy requires cooperation to a large degree; “so far as the visible structure ... it is well on the way to the structure contemplated by orthodox Socialists. ... The modern problem is to reconcile” these principles; “somehow, the necessary planning must presrve the largest freedom possible for individual action ... so as to bring into play the largest possible percentage of the existing individual ability-potential.”...

Note that the Wall Street Journal is not voicing a full-throated defense of the free market and capitalism.  "Cooperation" was a popular concept in the 1920's with Hoover and the early 1930's.  The idea was that human intelligence, which had accomplished so much in innovations and technology, was up to the challenge of creating social arrangements which were better than those arising out of the chaos of the market. That's the sort of thought which led to the creation of the Federal Farm Board and then the Agricultural Adjustment Administration .

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