Blogs > Liberty and Power > Peace and Free Trade: "One and the Same Cause"

Oct 20, 2006 9:44 am

Peace and Free Trade: "One and the Same Cause"

The Nobel Peace Prize this year went to a different sort of activist. Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economics professor, and his Grameen Bank won the prize for pioneering the concept of microcredit, small loans made to poor producers who because they lack collateral can't get conventional bank loans."Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty," the Nobel committee said."Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights."

. . . From the beginning (classical) liberalism regarded freedom of commerce and peace as, in Richard Cobden's words,"one and the same cause." As Joseph Schumpeter noted,"Wherever capitalism penetrated, peace parties of such strength arose that virtually every war meant a political struggle on the domestic scene." Leading French and British liberals played important roles in the world Peace Congresses held in the mid-nineteenth century, and American liberals rose up in protest when the United States went to war with Spain in 1898 and then held the Philippine Islands as a colony.

But, sadly, peace and commerce have gotten separated in the public's mind over the years, perhaps because opponents of the market and free trade have been the most visible critics of war.

Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Foundation website.

Cross-posted at Free Association.

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More Comments:

Sheldon Richman - 10/24/2006

Fascinating! I must investigate. Thanks!

Roderick T. Long - 10/23/2006

Interestingly, the very first recipient (well, co-recipient) of the Nobel Peace Prize back in 1901 was libertarian economist Frederic Passy, a friend of Gustave de Molinari (he wrote an introduction to one of Molinari’s books, and in another book criticised Moliari for not being libertarian enough on the subejct of education).