… is from page 23 of the late Nathan Rosenberg’s 1979 paper “Adam Smith and Laissez-Faire Revisited,” which is Chapter 2 in Adam Smith and Modern Political Economy , (Gerald P. O’Driscoll, Jr., ed., 1979):
In [Adam] Smith’s view, mercantilism represented the successful attempts of rapacious and monopolizing merchants to exploit the machinery of government to their own purposes. The trouble is not that the merchant class is selfish and acquisitive – those qualities are not unique to merchants – but that mercantilism was a collection of government measures that made it possible for businessmen to achieve their own selfish goals without at the same time advancing the public interest. Mercantilism represented a successful assault of the business community upon a helpless public.
DBx: Yes. And mercantilism remains so today.
Mercantilism, in a short phrase, is legalized plunder. Those who practice it are plunderers, and those who apologize for, or excuse, those who practice mercantilism are apologists for plunderers. These apologists might sound (especially to the economically illiterate) clever and convincing, but a careful consideration of mercantilist apologetics reveals these all to be nothing but torrents of illogic and intellectual rubbish.