Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Commerce, markets, and peace: Richard Cobden's enduring lessons

Stringham, Edward (2004): Commerce, markets, and peace: Richard Cobden's enduring lessons. Published in: Independent Review , Vol. 9, No. 1 (2004): pp. 543-549.

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Do capitalism and conflicts go hand in hand? Are the military and markets complements? Indeed, many conservative advocates of markets also passionately support the military, and many people who oppose war also oppose markets. Nineteenth-century writer Richard Cobden, however, maintained that the military and markets were substitutes: more military entails less market. Although the ideas in The Political Writings of Richard Cobden (1903) are a century and a half old, Cobden considered many arguments for military intervention still made today. He discussed whether military spending was beneficial to the economy, to commerce, and to peace, and in all three cases he answered no. Both conservatives and left liberals can learn much from Cobden’s discussion of commerce, markets, and peace. As he demonstrated, the advocate of markets must be an advocate of peace.

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