Front Page Titles (by Subject) Protectionism and Politics - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
Protectionism and Politics - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
About Liberty Fund:
This work is copyrighted by the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and is put online with their permission.
Fair use statement:
Protectionism and Politics
“International Trade, Domestic Coalitions, and Liberty: Comparative Responses to the Crisis of 1873–1896.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 8 (1977): 281–314.
Public economic policies reveal a variety of motivations as shown in the responses of Germany, France, Great Britain, and the United States to the “Crisis of 1873–1896,” when prices declined and output continued to rise. A major goal of research would be to explain why these countries pursued the tariff policies they did. We need to examine economic explanations, political explanations, general international implications for each country, and the economic ideology involved.
In and of themselves, economic and political explanations do not explain all. The British free-trade Anti-Corn Law Lobby remained in power during this period. In Germany, by contrast, protectionist philosophy opposing free-trade had developed early on; and the Junkers swung quite dramatically from free trade to protection. In America, the Republicans dominated politics after the Civil War; they opposed free trade by favoring high tariffs. It is enlightening that the Free Soil Republicans embraced the slogan of “Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free Men,” but failed to champion free trade.
In each country, the dominant coalitions remained intact. In Germany, for example, the coalition Bismarck welded together endured and, in fact, grew stronger. All four nations pursued some variation of imperialism. In America, the industrialists emerged triumphant, delegated little of their power, and were virtually free of criticism (after 1896) until the 1930s.
In the struggle between the coalition that favored a high tariff and that favoring a low one, the winners fell into three groups: groups whose vested interests for their policy were powerful enough to mobilize for action; groups occupying strategic power positions; and groups occupying strategic economic positions. The word “group” is preferable to “class” both because class is often meaningless (as when representatives of heavy industry and manufacturing square off) and because class analysis is too complex.