We are free men. Why would we not have free-trade?

Fox Maule-Ramsay, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 206 to 223 (in French)
Glasgow, January 10th 1844

“The Agitation in Scotland” covers almost twenty pages in which Frédéric Bastiat attempts to show that the activity of the League is not circumscribed to England but also spreads across this realm that has traditionally been a friend of the French. Extracts from the press listing various meetings in different cities across Scotland (funnily, it starts with a meeting in Carlisle, which to the best of my knowledge, sits south of Scotland) and some pieces of speeches have been translated here.

Today’s quote was pronounced by Fox Maule giving a toast at a large banquet in Glasgow. I note it down because it seems essential to me in order to show where should the onus of the proof be when constructivists oppose liberals. Indeed, the quality of free man is generally accepted (although not always properly understood), even amongst the opponents of liberals. I do  not really see how to discuss with a partisan of oppression who would consider that an elite is in place to “govern” the hoi polloi. However, if one accepts the postulate that men are born free with equal rights, restricting a freedom, whichever it is, desserves convincing arguments. Therefore, the question “Why would we not have free-trade?” would require a detailed explanation if it should be answered positively. In general, this is not the case and whenever there is one, it should be possible to detect a reasoning error or a mistake among the hypotheses.

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