Considering the past three centuries of economic development, how would Enlightenment philosophers critique modern capitalism? Has the West’s economic structure developed as they hoped? Would they approve of modern state-capitalism? These questions are crucial to uncovering the current applicability of Enlightenment ideals.
Among the first challenges of the new republic was balancing democracy and authority; an issue which continues to shape American politics today. James Madison, fearing an “excess of democracy”, proposed a system of modest popular participation alongside a clearly defined ruling class.