Blogs > Liberty and Power > Peace and Free Trade

Dec 28, 2005 2:09 pm

Peace and Free Trade

As the"War on Terror" has pushed libertarians to declare their relative dovishness or hawkishness, it's worth remembering, as Mark Brady so admirably and often reminds us here at L&P, that classical liberalism's commitment to free trade was part and parcel of its broader opposition to imperialism and war. Cato's Dan Griswold gives a nice overview of both the argument and the evidence that increased free trade has reduced the frequency of conflict over the last few decades. He concludes:

"Advocates of free trade and globalization have long argued that trade expansion means more efficiency, higher incomes, and reduced poverty. The welcome decline of armed conflicts in the past few decades indicates that free trade also comes with its own peace dividend."

Now, if only those on the left who are both anti-war and in favor of limits on free trade could see how the latter undermines the former...

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Anthony Gregory - 12/29/2005

Absolutely to both! Of course, these days, "free trade" is often used to described corporate-managed trade through horrific governmental institutions.

More and more, I think the right is getting worse on the issue while the left is coming around to being less protectionist. Many on the left realize that the United States is downright hypocritical on trade, telling other countries to lower their trade barriers while erecting its own tariffs or imposing sanctions on other nations, such as the murderous ones on Iraq throughout the 1990s. Supporting those sanctions alone belies any claim one might have to supporting free trade.

The US should also abandon its terrible farm subsidies. This is another issue where the left might be a little better.

The answer, always and anywhere, is unconditional, unilateral and immediate reduction and elimination of all trade restrictions as possible — not more centralized coercive gloablism through crooked institutions like the IMF. The US should drop all its trade restrictions, and stop cutting off trade with other countries, and thus encourage other nations to follow suit.

Free trade is indeed peace. Enemies of liberty on the left and right don't see this, so they favor one or the other, or make all too many exceptions.

Stephan Kinsella - 12/28/2005

And--if only those libertarians who are both pro-free trade and pro-war could see how the latter undermines the former...