Spain has adopted the prohibition and protection system and here she is, drowning in ignorance and desolation.

John Bowring, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 144 to 153 (in French)
Drury Lane, April 13th 1843

In this speech, John Bowring is glorifying the position of the United Kingdom in the concert of nations. He attributes to it the duty of leading by example in pursuing liberalisation of trade and uses the examples of various attitudes towards liberty to explain his position.

Today’s quote sits well in this framework exposing the autarky in which Spain placed itself (I cannot remember where I read that when it enriched itself with gold and silver coming from the Americas, it prohibited the export of these precious metals outside Spain, which created enormous harm to the economy). Opposing this unfortunate situation, he illustrates the attitude of Holland, which “has discovered the secret of the greatness of nations – liberty”.

The underlying thesis to this speech that I share is that the dynamics of liberalisation creates wealth while the constructivist and dictatorial dynamics hold nations at the bottom. This has been reproduced numerous times since, be it with the Wirtschaftswunder in federal Germany after 1948 (liberalisation), the Peronist Argentina around the same time (top-down approach) or China after 1980 (liberalisation).

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