The nineteenth century victory of free trade over Mercantilism and Protectionism represented one of the great triumphs in the history of classical liberalism.
David Ricardo (1772-1823) was one of the most influential economic theorists of the first half of the nineteenth century.
This escape from poverty originated in Western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the freeing of men and markets from the heavy-handed regulations and commercial restrictions of government.
Adam Smith on Free Trade, Crony Capitalism, and the Benefits from Commercial Society: Economic Ideas
Adam Smith’s central contribution to economic understanding was surely his demonstration that under an institutional arrangement of individual liberty, property rights, and voluntary exchange the self-interested conduct of market participants could be shown to be consistent with a general betterment of the human condition.
In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith applied Francis Hutcheson’s idea of “natural liberty” in formulating a conception of the meaning of individual freedom and the role and functions of limited government in a free society.
Hume presented a devastating criticism of Mercantilist thinking on trade and commerce, while at the same time, demonstrating the self-regulating and “balancing” forces of the market process.
One of the most cherished misunderstandings, if not delusions, of the social engineer – the individual who would presume to attempt to remake society through conscious and planned design – is the confident belief that he (and those like him) can ever know enough to successfully remold mankind and human institutions.
Society was not created by design to provide safety and security, but, instead, freedom and rights emerged and evolved out of more primitive forms of tribal and collective association as responses to considered injustices and abusive power.