Cross-posted from Daily History
Marc-William Palen’s new book The ‘Conspiracy’ of Free Trade: The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalisation, 1846-1896 is relevant not only to historians of imperialism, capitalism, and economics, but to the 2016 American presidential primary election. Once again, free trade has become a central campaign issue during a presidential election. While Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have discussed the consequences of free trade, they have provided very little historical context to help voters understand the rationale behind free trade. Palen’s book explores a world when extreme American economic nationalism came into conflict with Britain’s advocacy of global free trade. Palen’s book focuses “upon the ideological debates surrounding free trade and protectionism” within the United States and Great Britain.
Palen is a historian at the University of Exeter. He has written extensively on globalization and free trade for the New York Times, the Australian, The Conversation, Globalist Magazine, History News Network and many others. Palen has recently published two outstanding articles (‘Free trade is once again tearing apart the Republican Party‘ and ‘Trump’s anti-trade tirades recall GOP’s protectionist past‘) explaining how Donald Trump’s economic policies echo previous GOP stances on free trade. He is also the current editor for Imperial & Global Forum. You can follow Palen on Twitter at @MWPalen.
Here is the interview with Marc-William Palen.
If someone asked you to quickly summarize your book, what would be your 2-minute elevator version?
Briefly, The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade provides a new interpretation of Anglo-American imperialism and economic integration from the mid to late 19th century. The issue of free trade dominated the era’s political scene like no other. But whereas Britain turned to free trade as a national policy and ideology by mid-century, the United States turned to economic nationalism. The book thus argues that Anglo-American economic globalization was driven by this political and ideological conflict between free trade and economic nationalism from the 1840s onward.
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In 1902, journalist John A. Hobson published Imperialism: A Study. The book was among the first to connect the rise of finance capital with the growth of imperial expansion after 1870. Hobson’s theory would fast number among the most influential critiques of imperialism. Although Hobson himself was not a Marxist (he was a classical liberal), his theory would play a key role in shaping subsequent Marxist theories of imperialism, most notably that of V. I. Lenin.
In this Talking Empire podcast, Centre Director Richard Toye discusses Hobson’s Imperialism with Dr. Marc-William Palen.
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Free trade has become the Republican elephant in the room, thanks to Donald Trump.
The GOP front-runner has helped make trade one of the hot-button issues of the 2016 presidential race. And it’s tearing the Republican Party apart – just like it did in the wake of the U.S. Civil War.
Back then, a third-party run by free trade Republicans put the GOP on a protectionist course that lasted 100 years, as I’ve explored in a recent book on the topic. Could it happen again? Continue reading “History Repeating Itself? Free trade is once again tearing apart the Republican Party”
Charles V. Reed
Elizabeth City State University
As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit south Asia this week, doing the sorts of things that royals are expected to do whilst abroad in the former empire – attend fancy social events, commemorate, inaugurate, and patronize, play cricket, and so on – the celebrity-obsessed global media has enthusiastically followed their every move. An even cursory glance at the tweets tagged #RoyalVisitIndia reveals the performative and visual character of the royal tour – so essential to its purpose since the first visits of the nineteenth century. William and Kate’s touring ancestors would find much familiar in their itineraries, the ceremony, the responses. It’s a quite odd thing, when we think about it, considering nearly seventy years of Indian independence from British rule. Of course, the present Queen’s dedication to the Commonwealth and maintaining the monarchy’s role in the former empire — as chronicled in Philip Murphy’s Monarchy and the End of Empire — explains much of it. But the Victorian history of the royal tour is of equal significance. Continue reading “The Victorian Origins of Will and Kate’s Visit to India”