I shall show that commercial emancipation leads to political emancipation.

Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works volume I, page 154 (in French)
Letter dated January 10th, 1847

Today’s quote reflects a major idea of liberalism, viz. that economic liberalism is conducing peace. This is the idea from Montesquieu when he extols the virtues of “doux commerce” in order to establish friendly relationships between peoples and this is also the idea that contributed to the creation of the ESCS (European Coal and Steel Community) that had been established after the three Franco-German wars of 1870, 1914 and 1939, the latter ones having degenerated into world wars. The idea was then to create strong commercial relationships between France and Germany in order to avoid waging a new war (and this has been a success until this day).

The ESCS was indeed far from the ideals of Frédéric Bastiat (it was pertaining to heavy industry which was highly political) but it was a step towards liberalism. I am convinced that a liberal dynamic is what counts the most, the degree of liberalism to attain being systematically subject to disagreements. Indeed, this is what has then occurred – the European Union, which is currently in its way to become a regulatory hell and a protectionist fortress towards the rest of the world, still presents an incredible number of liberal characteristics for the peoples of its member states (the free movement of goods and people is real, which is not a small feat for liberty – let’s not forget it).

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