The 18th century in France is known as the Enlightenment or the Age of Enlightenment, a period of intellectual renewal that affected all spheres of thought . In this historical context, a new intellectual doctrine emerged: physiocracy.
The term physiocracy comes from the Greek and means government of nature
The followers of this current are the Physiocrats, those who defended the principle of laws in nature, so the economic reality was also affected by them. Physiocracy
Man should not create his own rules about economic activity , but he needs to know natural laws and know how to use them. Starting from this general principle, the Physiocrats believed that the best economic system was one that the state did not meddle with as far as possible. The non-intervention defended is known by its name in French “laissez faire”, which means to let it be done, in other words, not to intervene.
Its economic position contrasts with another doctrine, mercantilism, which favored state control over economic reality, for example, through the monopoly of certain activities.
Physiocracy as a mainly economic doctrine played a unique role in agriculture, that of an authentic generator of wealth
It did not positively value commerce and industry because both activities only distributed wealth, on the other hand, it should be taken into account that at that time the Industrial Revolution had not yet started, so the Physiocrats ignored the potential of industrialization and commerce in Big scale. The value given to agriculture as the axis of economic activity was related to the ideal of man linked to land and nature (an idea brought into fashion in France by the influence of the philosopher Rousseau).
Physiocracy expresses great optimism in human beings and the idea of progress
It is considered to be a historical precedent for liberalism and neoliberalism, as both approaches advocate minimal state intervention, protect private property, and exalt individual freedom .
Historically, physiocracy was one of the first schools of thought understood by economics as a science. Many of the current themes that are part of economics come from the defenders of this doctrine, especially from François Quesnay, the main intellectual figure among the Physiocrats.