Mercantilism and Feudalism
Pleas for special interests, whether open or disguised, constituted the bulk of mercantilist literature. The disinterested patriot or philosopher played a minor part in the development of mercantilist doctrine.
It is important to remember that Mercantilism (which now drives a lot of international discussions on trade and trade protections) evolved during the era of Feudalism. And one way to consider Feudalism is as a system where the leaders of the largest corporations in the country lead the country: Feudal leaders were often royal families who owned large tracks of land–and during the era of Feudalism, land (and agrarian industries) were the major source of income.
So it seems logical that Mercantilism would evolve during Feudalism: each Feudal leader was essentially a special interest for the products their land produced.
We now live in an era where the most dynamic economies are those with lots of small companies and individually owned organizations: the mom-and-pop shop, the freelance producer, the small business owner. And in such economies, special interests (who often represent the larger corporations–they may produce the bread and butter of what we consume, but they’re hardly dynamic and rarely produce the sort of job growth small companies do) often stand in the way of smaller producers.
Mercantilism should have gone the way of Feudalism. But sadly we have a habit of taking old, bad ideas, repackaging them, and presenting them as if they were cutting edge ideas. Thus, feudalism evolved into French socialism, which became the root of modern “scientific” socialism and its variants being peddled by the left–along with economic sector variants, like “Single Payer.” (And interestingly enough, we even get the royal families under Socialism; one only has to look at how the leaders of most socialist countries are related to each other, or how successorship of the leadership in many Socialisms fall by family lines.)
Thus, today’s discussion of trade protectionism, which is simply Mercantilism where the pigs at the trough wear the mantle of victimhood.