Responding to Article #8 of The Globalization Reader, Liberalism
In his article, Burchill discusses “The spirit of commerce”and in doing so shares with his readers the way in which the liberal idea of free trade can promote peace. Burchill begins this section by discussing the idea that Liberals believed in, that war and commerce were simply incompatible notions. After fleshing out the roots of war Burchill came to the conclusion that wealth was the source of power and the struggle for power led to war. In the 18th and 19th century wealth was brought into a nation by exports (in other wars commerce) and the only way to expand a nations wealth was to take the exports of other nations. War ensued because of commerce.
In order to find a solution the and uphold the idea that war and commerce are incompatible investment into the idea of free trade came about. Free trade would become a more peaceful way of achieving wealth for a nation because it would destroy the barriers between states and unite individuals.
What i find so interesting about Burchill’s idea of free trade is that it appeals to the nature of man and focuses on economic self-interest. The idea being that when people are invested in seeing themselves prosper they will foster mutual relationships through trade that would help people create an understanding among themselves. Instead of being fixated on resources that were owned those resources would be freely exchanged. An increase in markets where commerce is freely exchanged creates a disincentive for war. Peace ultimately being achieved by self-interest of people, because when you are heavily invested in a community your are less likely to go against your own interest. Burchill states “it is commerce which is rapidly rendering war obsolete, by strengthening and multiplying the personal interest which act in natural opposition to it” (66)