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Mercantilism is an economic policy located (debatably) on the far right of the economic axis that strives to increase the exports of a nation but decrease the imports to it. It is usually authoritarian-leaning, as well, since it is an ideology that believes that the state should be the primary recipient of wealth (much like State Capitalism).


Traditionally, mercantilists believed that gold or other precious metals were the main indication of wealth; and gold is NOT manufactured, but rather exists in a finite supply on Earth and is simply divided amongst the nations that have it. The Great Steve Heimler from Heimler's History compared the way mercantilists saw gold to the way hungry people see a pie: There is only one pie, and everyone is trying to get as much as they can!

He emerged out of Feudalism and was the precursor of Capitalism, although they both see wealth as radically different things. Mercantilism is based on the core assumption that wealth exists in the form of precious metals and is simply distributed, thus it's based on the amount of gold/silver a country has, and that the state/nation should focus on enriching themselves first. Since it believed that the real riches of a nation were a byproduct of the amount of gold and other precious metals that it had, it led to colonialism having a big focus on finding gold and silver mining places, since that would undermine the capacity of other powers to enrich themselves. And due to seeing wealth as a zero-sum game, it also believes that increasing the national trade surplus will make the nation richer while making the other nations (its rivals and enemies) poorer.

As stated before, Mercantilism and Capitalism see the nature of wealth as completely different. Capitalism sees wealth as the goods and services produced and consumed and sees gold simply as a means of exchange to obtain these goods. Mercantilism sees gold as the goal, not as a means to an end. This also leads to the core difference (in practice), which is trading policy. Capitalism sees free trade as a way to increase the nation's wealth, since it lets the nation specialize in what it can do better while letting what it can't do be handled by others and thus generate more wealth, Mercantilism sees free trade as something that weakens the nation by allowing its rivals (and trading partners in this situation) to stockpile more wealth which could've been kept by the nation, making it poorer.

This resulted in policies that sought to maximize the types of goods produced within the country and minimize things that needed to be imported, as well as increasing the nation's exports, usually translating into policies such as restricting who colonies could trade with, and what they were allowed to trade, if at all. Mercantilism was also generally in support of a strong merchant class, seeing them as on par with the nobility.

Mercantilism in the modern days

Mercantilism is a very old ideology, which stopped being relevant more than 3 centuries ago; but Mercantilist mentality (which isn't the same as Protectionist mentality) can be seen in modern economic policy. The biggest example is the American trading policy under the Trump administration.
Trump argued that the U.S. "loses" money spent in importing foreign goods and materials and that a "strong economy" must run a trade surplus. Furthermore, the rhetoric of the president often suggests that any money spent on imports enriches foreign competitors at the expense of American businesses and workers.


Mercantilism acts as a stereotypical European Merchant, Banker, Sailor, and/or Noble investor in the 16th to 18th centuries.

How to Draw

Flag of Mercantilism
  1. Draw a ball.
  2. Fill in with blue.
  3. Draw a yellow ship on waves.
  4. Draw in the eyes.

You're done!




  • Capitalism - Allowed the merchant class to become richer, but free trade, really?
  • State Capitalism - Our merchant republics aren't exactly "state capitalist" but you know our ways.
  • Guild Socialism - We always keep in contact with the merchants guild.
  • Hydrarchy - He might be a dense bloke but his privateers are useful.
  • Juche - My commie student. His heart is in the right place.


  • Hayekism - LMAO how am I the communist when you claim to want to enrich the common people?
  • Libertarianism - Okay you like capitalism, but your "unrestricted international trade" policy is disgusting!
  • Classical Liberalism - Free Trade? More like downgrade!
  • Neoliberalism - Now, as bad as he is, he didn't build an empire off INTEREST AND USURY, you are trying to make something out of literally nothing. And you phased out the gold standard too so now your currency is backed by your empire which is backed by your currency. Are you stupid?

Further Information



Online Communities


Mercantilism is one of the main characters in the online video series Voyage by Galileo.



Alternative designs

Artwork and Comics


  1. The Netherlands was the only European state that traded with the Tokugawa Shogunate. They also helped it suppress Catholic rebels.