Abraham Lincoln famously said the reason why we have a democratic society in America is we don’t have a permanent class of wage laborers. He thought that wage labor was something you pass through in your 20s and 30s when you’re accumulating enough money to set up on your own; so the idea was everyone will eventually be self-employed.
Heh. Look what I read today in Rothbard's Markets Not Capitalism:
A typical nineteenth-century American “self-help” book aimed at young
men did not say, “Get a job working for wages within an increasingly intricate division of labor so as to enjoy a greater variety of consumer goods.”
Instead, it said, “Get yourself a competency” – a vision fraught with republican implications suitably modernized. Working for wages, if one did it at all, was a temporary stage – to be endured while learning a skill or trade and abandoned later in favor of real or potential independence. This independence, derided in our time as “illusory,” left one free (within limits) not just from state interference but also from nineteenth-century employers.
From The American Land Question, Joseph Stromberg.