David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Science and Society 59 (1):38 - 51 (1995)
The issue of "Free Trade vs. Protectionism" has been the subject of a lively and crucial debate in recent years, although with little Marxist participation. In this article, Marx's early writings on this question are examined. While Marx was neither a "Free Trader" nor a "protectionist," he did consider free trade to be more compatible with industrial capitalism and conducive to general economic development than protectionism, which he associated with the era of merchant capitalism. In this historical sense, then, Marx preferred Free Trade to protectionism. While this position cannot be carried over to today's conditions, it does contribute to the debate among Marxist economists concerning the nature of different trade regimes in a world dominated by late capitalism.
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