There is no difference between the principles, policies and practical results of socialism-and those of any historical or prehistorical tyranny. Socialism is merely democratic absolute monarchy-that is, a system of absolutism without a fixed head, open to seizure of power by all corners, by any ruthless climber, opportunist, adventurer, demagogue or thug.
But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.
That was the ace hidden up the sleeves of the Jardines, Mathesons and Dents of the world. Despite all their cacklings about Free Trade, the truth was that their commercial advantages had nothing to do with markets or trade or more advanced business practices – it lay in the brute firepower of the British Empire’s guns and gunboats.
Minimum standards to promote workers’ wages, health and safety, to safeguard the community against pollution and degradation, and to ensure basic life goods for all as a basic contract for civil society was between 1945 and the mid-1970s, in fact, a rapidly evolving framework which inhibited the causes and effects of a corporate market system committed to an opposed goal.
Protectionism does not produce wealth, and free trade and economic openness are ultimately in everyone’s interest
It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of Philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, it has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — free trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
If it’s okay to enrich ourselves by denying foreigners the right to earn a living, why shouldn’t we enrich ourselves by invading peaceful countries and seizing their assets? Most of us don’t think that’s a good idea, and not just because it might backfire. We don’t think it’s a good idea because we believe human beings have human rights, whatever their colour and wherever they live. Stealing assets is wrong, and so is stealing the right to earn a living, no matter where the victim was born.