The Antitrust Laws of the United States of America: A Study of Competition Enforced by Law

By A. D. Neale | Go to book overview

PART II
ANTITRUST ASSESSED

CHAPTER XIV
ANTITRUST AS AN AMERICAN POLICY

1. The motivation Of antitrust: radical and 'small business' motives; economic objectives; the provision of legal checks to the exercise of economic power as the mainspring of antitrust

People outside the United States want to know what lessons the antitrust system has for them. Before this question is reached, however, it is necessary to consider, on the basis of the case-law, how far antitrust should be accounted a success on its own home ground and by reference to the assumptions and motives which sustain it as a public policy in the United States; for the extent to which antitrust is a response to specifically American conditions and concerns has to be taken into account in the process of judging whether it may have general application as an answer to the problem of monopolies and restrictive practices and whether it is the kind of growth that will 'take' if transplanted to other countries with different historical and social backgrounds and different political and administrative arrangements. Thus the first question of all is what are the Americans trying to achieve with antitrust.

A number of different motive factors go to make up the driving power of the antitrust policy in the United States. It would not have consistently attracted so broad a range of political support without the essential quality of having something for everybody (or nearly everybody). Thus there is no single yardstick of its achievement; different groups of people in the United States look to antitrust for different things and account it a success or a disappointment by different standards. But some motives and assumptions have deeper roots than others; some are relatively sectional in their appeal or intermittent in their influence.

One important factor of the sectional and intermittent type, for example, is political radicalism. It has been noted that the Sherman Act owed its origin largely to political pressures of an agrarian and

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