An Analysis of the Cases of the United States and France in the Development of Democracy and Capitalism in Political Science

Categories: Political science

Political Science 20004/28/03CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACYABSTRACTThe purpose of this essay is to examine the two cases of the United States and France in the development of democracy and capitalism. It will discuss the specific differences in the development of democracy in the two states and attempt to answer the question as to why the expansion of capitalism is treated as the primary factor responsible for the emergence of democracy. My central argument is that capitalism and freedom are interrelated. Capitalism and Democracy are compatible and a capitalist/democratic system is superior to any other combination of government and market, and historically provides greater social and economic prosperity then any other system in history.

A world dominated by Capitalism and Democracy is a better world. First, I will provide an analysis and discuss the development of democracy in the United States and France. Then, I will proceed to explain why capitalism is a primary factor in the emergence of democracy. Finally, I will provide an elaborate discussion on why democracy and capitalism provides greater social and economic prosperity more so than any other government/market system ever established.

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STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMGovernment and market systems are set up to provide social prosperity for its citizens and domestic security. However, as Milton Friedman argues, â€celt is widely believed that politics and economics are separate and largely unconnected; that individual freedom is a political problem and material welfare an economical problem; and that any kind of political arrangements can be combined with any kind of economic arrangements.

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â€. The chief contemporary manifestation of this idea is the advocacy of â€oedemocratic socialismâ€l by many who condemn out of hand the restrictions on individual freedom imposed by â€o Totalitarian socialism in Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) and who are persuaded that it is possible for a country to adopt the essential features of Russian economic arrangements and yet to ensure individual freedom through political arrangements.â€I (Friedman, p7)According to Friedman, this claim is a delusion and, “that only certain combinations of political and economic arrangements are possible, and that in particular, a society which is socialist cannot also be democratic, in the sense of guaranteeing individual freedom.†(Friedman, p8) In short, Friedman argues that only a market economy can guarantee individual freedom.THEORY Friedmanâ€TMs belief in a limited government is supported by his desires to restrict the scope of governmentâ€TMs authority in the collective lives of individuals and to decentralize the power base of government to prevent a personâ€TMs unwanted entanglements with a federal bureaucracy. The political views he espouses are clearly rooted in the concept of early liberalism as found in the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries. Friedman states that political freedom means the â€ce†absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerceâ€The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated- a system of checks and balances. By removing the organization of economic activity from the control of political authority, the market eliminates this source of coercive power. Friedman believes that the greater the economic freedom or competition, the less discrimination there will be. I am in agreement with Friedman on the fact that government does need to be restricted. I also feel that capitalism and democracy are interrelated and create the best type of economical/political system that promotes the greatest amount of social and economic prosperity.EVIDENCE / COMPARATIVE ANALYSISIn Barrington Mooreâ€TMs Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World, he argues that, â€oe Striking down slavery was a decisive step, an act at least as important as the striking down of absolute monarchy in the English Civil War and the French Revolution, an essential preliminary for further advances. Like these violent upheaval, the main achievements in our Civil War were political in the broad sense†â€l During the time right before the French Revolution, its nobility ran France and its economy depended heavily on the load that the peasants carried. The leading French sector became an appanage of the king and led to the destruction of the aristocracy. French nobility relied heavily on what it extracted from peasants. By the late 14th and 15th centuries, many basic features began to appear in France. A seigneur devoted little attention to the cultivation of his own demesne, which was small in size. His demesne shrunk as the overlord granted out sections of it in small parcels to the peasants in return for a portion of the crop. The seigneur usually preferred the land to be let out as a whole in hopes of regaining it back. However, this was not always possible. The burden of cultivation was thrown on the tenants managing large units, or more often directly on the peasants. However, the peasants managed to escape from personal servitude, mainly by capitalizing on the demand for labor in the countryside that increased as the growing towns presented the possibility of another way of life. By the Revolution, peasants possessed close to de facto property rights. For the latter part of the seventeenth century and the opening decade of the eighteenth century, the key agricultural problem was to get grain to the classes that ate bread but did not grow wheat. The general problem of the grain problem was on of controlling a limited supply from a limited area.

There was also a major wine problem. Wine was a commercial product and a very important one. To grow grapes meant to be propelled into the market, â€oeto become dependent on the acts of the kings and chancellors and to try to influence them, to find businesslike methods and account books more congenial that the beau geste, the sword, largesse, and other aristocratic ways. However, a long depression in the wine trade was a decisive factor in accounting for the generally backward state of the French economy and the outbreak of the Revolution. Nine-tenths of the wine was consumed in France itself, as estimated by French economic historian C.E. Labrousse. Bad transportation, vine culture spread over the country, and most of the wine drunk in France explains why most wine of â€ovine ordinaire.â€I The essential distinction between wine-producing and grain-growing areas in France was simple: the French aristocrat kept the peasant on the land and used feudal lever to extract more produce. Then the nobleman sold the produce on the market. In the case of the wine, the noblemanâ€TMs legal privileges were useful since through them he could do a great deal to prevent peasants from bringing wine into Bordeaux where it could compete with that from a noble chateau. Lacking the privilege of bringing wine into the city, as well as the resources to postpone sale until the most favorable moment, the smaller producers found it necessary to sell their wine to the noble landlord. The main forces that created the economic relationships were capitalist influences from the towns and the monarchyâ€TMs long efforts to hold the nobility in check. In France, the fusion between countryside and town took place through the crown. The collapse of the French monarchy was due to their inability to pursue a consistent policy, thus they did not survive. The main differences between the American route to modern capitalist democracy and those followed by France stem from Americaâ€TMs later start. The United States did not face the problem of dismounting a complex and well-established agrarian society of either the feudal or the bureaucratic forms. Nor has American society ever had a massive class of peasants comparable to those in Europe and Asia. There have still been to great-armed upheavals in our history, the American Revolution and the Civil War. Both have been significant elements in the way the United States became the worldâ€TMs leading industrial capitalist democracy by the middle of the twentieth century. The Civil War is commonly marked as the violent dividing point between the agrarian and industrial epochs in American history. It was the last revolutionary offensive on the part of urban or bourgeois capitalist democracy. Slavery in the south helped to promote American industrial growth in the early stages, but was an obstacle to a political and social democracy, thus striking down slavery was a decisive step, an essential preliminary for further advances, as was striking down the absolute monarchy in the English Civil War and the French Revolution.By 1860 the United States had developed three different forms of society in different parts of the county: the cotton-growing South; the West, a land of free farmers, and the rapidly industrializing Northeast. Two closely related developments were to destroy agrarian democracy: the further growth of industrial capitalism in the Northeast and the establishment of an export market for Southern cotton. Between 1815 and 1860 the cotton trade exercised a decisive influence upon the rate of growth in the American economy. Up until about 1830, it was the most important cause of the growth of manufacturing in America. The plantation operated by slavery was no anachronistic excrescence on industrial capitalism. It was an integral part of this system and one of its prime motors in the world at large. Slavery was almost certainly not on the point of dying out for internal reasons. It was economically profitable and by the time the war broke out, plantation slavery had become a feature of the lower South. The issue of slavery in the territories, as partly settled areas that had not yet become states were called, played a major part in bringing on the War. To speak of purely economic factors as the main causes behind the war is just as impossible as it is to speak of the war as mainly a consequence of moral differences over slavery. The moral issues arose from economic differences. Without the direct conflict of ideals over slavery, the events leading up to the war and the war itself are completely incomprehensible. The main force behind the growth of Northern capitalism itself through the 1830s came from cotton. The pace of industrial growth accelerated to the point where the Northeast became a manufacturing region. This expansion ended the dependence of the American economy on a single agricultural staple. The Northeast and the West became less dependent on the South and more on each other. Northern manufacturing output came to be exchanged heavily with the rapidly growing Western areas of the country. According the Moore, â€oln its relation to the plantation economy, the Northeast provided the services of financing, transportation, insurance, and marketing†thus, Southern incomes were spent very largely in the North to purchase services for the marketing of cotton to buy what was needed on the plantation that could not be produced on the spot, and†for holidays from the heat by rich planters.â€l He goes on the state that Northern capitalism needed the protection and legitimation of private property from the government. Northern capitalist wanted a good amount of government assistance in the process of accumulating capital and operating a market economy: â€oe†more specifically, some tariff protection, aid in setting up transportation network,†sound money, and a central banking system.

Above all, the ablest Northern leaders wanted to be able to do business without bothering about state and regional frontiers.â€. In a nut shell, these were the main causes of the Civil War between the Northern and Southern states that, in all actuality, was primarily caused by capitalism rather than slavery.

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An Analysis of the Cases of the United States and France in the Development of Democracy and Capitalism in Political Science. (2022, Jun 09). Retrieved from

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