Was Wilson an idealist to think that the monopolies would be broken up?
I think that the monopolies will die a slow death by communities working together to make their processes and market more flexible. They will dodge and weave, they are more nimble and aware of what is going on locally. The monopolies will be blindsided by small, agile concerns that speak directly to the people. When monopolies become too old, when their banks have fallen apart because the people refuse to carry them on their backs, when the labor force becomes wise to the manipulation and thievery, when their pensions are completely stolen and the Medicare fund is gambled away, then and only then the people will agree that we must act locally. And they will stop supporting industries who don’t care about them.
“When we undertake the strategy which is going to be necessary to overcome and destroy this far-reaching system of monopoly, we are rescuing the business of this country, we are not injuring it; and when we separate the interests from each other and dismember these communities of connection, we have in mind a greater community of interest, a vaster community of interest, the community of interest that binds the virtues of all men together, that community of mankind which is broad and catholic enough to take under the sweep of its comprehension all sorts and conditions of men; that vision which sees that no society is renewed from the top but that every society is renewed from the bottom. Limit opportunity, restrict the field of originative achievement, and you have cut out the heart and root of all prosperity.
“The only thing that can ever make a free country is to keep a free and hopeful heart under every jacket in it. Honest American industry has always thriven, when it has thriven at all, on freedom; it has never thriven on monopoly. It is a great deal better to shift for yourselves than to be taken care of by a great combination of capital. I, for my part, do not want to be taken care of. I would rather starve a free man than be fed a mere thing at the caprice of those who are organizing American industry as they please to organize it. I know, and every man in his heart knows, that the only way to enrich America is to make it possible for any man who has the brains to get into the game. I am not jealous of the size of any business that has grown to that size. I am not jealous of any process of growth, no matter how huge the result, provided the result was indeed obtained by the processes of wholesome development, which are the processes of efficiency, of economy, of intelligence, and of invention.”
Wilson, Woodrow. “Chapter 8/Monopoly, or Opportunity?” The New Freedom; a Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People. New York and Garden City: Doubleday, Page, 1913. 190-191. Print.