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Why Socialists Once Championed Free Trade | IEA Book Club

The Institute of Economic Affairs hosted a Book Club event featuring author and IEA Senior Education Fellow, Marc-William Palen, hosted by IEA Managing Editor Dan Freeman, to discuss his book "Pax Economica: Left-Wing Visions of a Free Trade World."

In this fascinating conversation, Palen explores the often-overlooked history of left-wing free traders from the 1840s to the present day, challenging common narratives about the origins of free trade ideology. The discussion covers a wide range of topics, including the role of figures like Richard Cobden, Karl Marx, and Cordell Hull in shaping left-wing free trade thought. Palen examines how free trade was connected to anti-imperialism, peace movements, and workers' rights in leftist ideology.

The conversation also touches on the evolution of socialist attitudes towards free trade and the impact of the Cold War on political alignments around trade policy. This thought-provoking event offers fresh perspectives on the history of economic thought and international relations. Palen and Freeman explore the complexities of how free trade has been viewed across the political spectrum, providing insights relevant to contemporary debates about globalisation, protectionism, and the future of international trade.

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