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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/69

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THE LOGIC OF FREE TRADE AND PROTECTION.

his system by any artificial boundaries. He strikes at once at the root of the subject. He sees that trade finds its basis not in any system of legislation, but in human wants and desires. Wants lead to industries, and industries to commerce. One form of production necessitates another. Food, clothing, and shelter are requisite to mankind in all parts of the globe. Climate, soil, and topography determine only the kind requisite. Mr. Blaine considers the universal application of Mr. Gladstone's theory as a "most remarkable feature." It would have been a much more remarkable feature had he restricted it. The "feature" which the protectionist does not seem to understand is that free trade is not simply a "theory" any more than human freedom is. Both are moral truths. And just as Mr. Blaine believed in loosening the shackles that held the slave in bondage, so the free-trader believes in throwing off all the fetters that hold trade in check. Similarly, as he would denounce him who held human freedom to be a policy—wise only under certain conditions and in certain countries—so the free-trader feels Mr. Blaine's suggestion to be equally absurd and immoral. Free trade is not a mere policy. It is based upon the "live-and-letlive" principle, and the highest testimony to its wisdom, as well as its truth, is its universal applicability. It recognizes neither religion, color, language, nor climate, and is limited only by human existence. It is at this point that the ethical side of the question may well receive notice. To Mr. Blaine it appears amusing that his opponent should see any question of ethics in the subject at all. We believe that to most people the strongest feature in the slave question was its appeal to the moral sentiment. It was certainly this phase that inspired the most eloquent appeals and the greatest oratorical efforts. Similarly, it is this same sentiment that animates the mind of Mr. Gladstone. The idea is expressed by Herbert Spencer as follows: "The ability to exercise the faculties, the total denial of which causes death—that liberty to pursue the objects of desire, without which there can not be complete life—that freedom of action which his nature prompts every individual to claim, and on which equity puts no limit save the like freedom of action of other individuals, involves, among other corollaries, freedom of exchange. Government—which, in protecting citizens from murder, robbery, assault, or other aggression, shows us that it has all essential function of securing to each this free exercise of faculties within the assigned limits—is called on, in the due discharge of its function, to maintain this freedom of exchange, and can not abrogate it without reversing its function and becoming aggressor instead of protector. Thus, absolute morality would all along have shown in what direction legislation should tend. . . . An enormous amount