Thursday, March 3, 2011

Emerson on Trade

Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his 1844 lecture, "The Young American":

Trade was the strong man that broke it [feudalism] down, and raised a new and unknown power in its place. It is a new agent in the world, and one of great function; it is a very intellectual force. This displaces physical strength, and installs computation, combination, information, science, in its room. It calls out all force of a certain kind that slumbered in the former dynasties...

Trade goes to make the governments insignificant, and to bring every kind of faculty of every individual that can in any manner serve any person, _on sale_. Instead of a huge Army and Navy, and Executive Departments, it converts Government into an Intelligence-Office, where every man may find what he wishes to buy, and expose what he has to sell, not only produce and manufactures, but art, skill, and intellectual and moral values. This is the good and this the evil of trade, that it would put everything into market, talent, beauty, virtue, and man himself...

The `opposition' papers, so called, are on the same side. They attack the great capitalist, but with the aim to make a capitalist of the poor man. The opposition is against those who have money, from those who wish to have money.

Isn't it fascinating to see the great transcendentalist speak so eloquently about trade?

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