The American Commercial Policy: Three Historical Essays

The American Commercial Policy: Three Historical Essays

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The American Commercial Policy: Three Historical Essays

The American Commercial Policy: Three Historical Essays

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Excerpt

The student of the great question of international trade cannot but be struck by the strange contrast between economic science and the actual state of things: on the one hand, science, which during the whole of this century has been endeavouring to perfect and complete the doctrines of Adam Smith and Ricardo, and which has built up a theory of international trade, esteemed one of its greatest triumphs, proclaiming harmony and union of human interests; on the other hand, history, which lays before us the sad spectacle of animosities and cruelly persistent struggles. The theory of free-trade is held by economists almost as a dogma of faith; history shows us in reality the mercantile policy and the colonial system of past centuries, and the protectionist policy so widely diffused at the present day.

This divergency is rendered still more serious by the fact that the struggle which had been going on for so many years has so far influenced men's minds as to render a just and impartial judgment almost an impossibility; so that while one party holds that any deviation from the strict doctrine of free-trade, or any doubt or qualification, is an error to be condemned as a heresy, the other party maintains that the whole theory of free-trade is merely a Utopia, an abstract idea of absolutely no practical value.

And yet, as an illustrious economist once observed, it is . . .

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