Laissez-faire is French for “leave alone,” “allow to pass,” or “let do.”
The term is said to originate when, in 1681, when the comptroller of finance for King Louis XIV of France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, asked a group of French businessmen, headed by M. Le Gendre, what should the government do to help their businesses.
Le Gendre’s response “Laissez-nous faire” (which means: to leave us alone, and let us do it.)
Under laissez-faire capitalism, there is a separation of economics and state; just like under freedom of religion, there is a separation of religion and state.
As philosopher Ayn Rand has observed, “laissez-faire capitalism” (or real capitalism) is redundancy in today’s philosphical chaos necessary to distinguish real capitalism from all the different so-called “hyphenated-capitalism” which are a mixture of capitalism with anti-capitalist, statist elements.
Laissez-faire capitalism should not be confused with anarchism, where the government does absolutely nothing.
Under laissez-faire capitalism, the role of government is to protect the rights of all individuals equally. In cases of the initiation of physical force or fraud, the government is required to protect the rights of injured parties. Thus, there are no bail-outs, no subsidies, no price controls, no licensing to create monopolies, no regulations to restrict competition, no “protection” from imports, nor any laws to interfere with the freedom of production, work, and contract, so long as one is not violating the rights of others.