Julius Faucher, John Prince-Smith and the German Free Trade Movement
Gerd Habermann writes in his history of welfare statism in Germany that few German liberals committed to doctrinaire laissez-faire, apart from the young Wilhelm von Humboldt. In France and England, contrastingly, Humboldt's work exerted a much greater influence (Habermann 2013, 126). This work attempts to show that at least some German liberals defended a strict minimal state—in Lassalle's words, the “night watchman state”—responsible only for the production of security. Some of these liberals even discarded the state altogether and adopted an individualist anarchist view. This work presents the history and economic thought of these “orthodox” free traders, which met at the “Volkswirthschaftlicher Kongress” (Economic Congress) from 1858 to 1885. Research on this group is important because it adds to the understanding of German economic history in the 1860s and 1870s. At that time, the (orthodox) free traders were members of parliament in Prussia, the North German Confederation or the German Empire and assumed a “leading position” (Winkel 1977, 40) over public opinion. Volker Hentschel (1975, 283) notes about the free traders’ participation on the legislation between 1867 and 1875: “It created the legal and institutional grounds on which our economic order is still based today. […] it cannot be denied that the free traders exerted a sustainable influence on German economic history. It appears that this fact was seldom seen so far.” Wilhelm Roscher, the leading economist of the older Historical School, reached a similar conclusion in his history of German economic thought, writing that “these men indisputably rendered an outstanding contribution to the practice of Germany” (Roscher 1874b, 1016; emphasis in original).1 Moreover, a great part of the literature ignores the orthodox free traders or misrepresents their economic views. An example is Dieter Langewiesche's history Liberalismus in Deutschland (Liberalism in Germany) that discusses the orthodox free trader John Prince-Smith on a half page (Langewiesche 1988, 117), while the orthodox free traders Faucher, Braun and Hübner or principled attendees of the congress like Böhmert or Emminghaus are not mentioned. In what follows, a closer look is taken at the characteristics of the various groups of free traders at the congress and the literature on orthodox free trade.
Tesis Doctoral leída en la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid en 2019. Directores de la Tesis: Philipp Bagus y Miguel Ángel Alonso Neira
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