Saturday, July 22, 2006

Church of the Free Market I

“[T]he question of what part institutional or legal changes play in fostering or hindering economic development is too complex for the simple mid-nineteenth century formula: “liberalization creates economic progress.” The era of expansion had already begun even before the Corn Laws were repealed in britain in 1846. No doubt liberalization brought all sorts of specific positive results. Thus Copenhagen began to develop rather more rapidly as a city after the abolition of the “Sound Tolls” which discouraged shipping from entering the Baltic (1957). But how far the global movement to liberalize was cause, concomitant or consequence of economic expansion must be left an open question. The only certain thing is that, when other bases for capitalist development were lacking, it did not achieve much by itself. Nobody liberalized more radically than the Republic of New Granada (Columbia) between 1848 and 1854, but who will say that the great hopes of prosperity of its statemen were realized immediately or at all?”

Eric Hobsbawm “The Age of Capital 1848-1875” p. 37-38

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