Richard Cobden: the International Man

Richard Cobden: the International Man

Richard Cobden: the International Man

Richard Cobden: the International Man

Excerpt

The close attachment of the name of Richard Cobden to the overthrow of the protective system and the establishment of Free Trade in our fiscal arrangements has tended to obscure the wider policy of international relations which this great achievement was designed to serve. Even if we add to the six strenuous years of his Anti Corn-Law agitation, crowned by the Act of repeal, the later negotiation of the French Commercial Treaty, we cover but a single section of his ever-widening activity for the realization of sound principles of foreign policy. Cobden was first and always what his French comrade, Emile de Girardin, called him, "an international man." His foreign policy was couched in the single term "non-intervention."

Protective tariffs and other trade impediments were condemned, not merely or mainly because they made food dear and otherwise impaired the production of national wealth, but because they interfered with the free and friendly intercourse of different nations, bred hostility of interests, stimulated hostile preparations, and swallowed up those energies and resources of each nation that were needed for the cultivation of the arts of peaceful progress.

Non-intervention may appear to some a cold and negative and a wholly insufficient conception of internationalism. To Cobden, however, it was the only safe and sure condition for the play of the positive forces of human sympathy and solidarity between the members of different political communities. Let Governments cease to interfere and then peoples will discover and maintain friendly . . .

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