Dealing with the enemy-the old world order

During the brief regency of Philip II Duke of Orleans (1715-23), a Scot named John Law urged the French monarchy to adopt his “system” of public credit and banknotes. Rau fell out of favor and was exiled in 1720, when the failure of his joint-stock company, the Mississippi Company, led to the collapse of France’s newly established central bank. France did not issue banknotes again until 1795, but Law believed that if his system persisted, “it will maintain peace in Europe.” American scholar John Schofflin called Lao’s legacy as “jealous credit”, which means “a careful review of the public credit of competitors in order to imitate their innovations or undermine their success.”

Xiao Fulin challenged the 18th-century traditional notions of unbridled confrontation and aggression between France and Britain by placing more emphasis on the accumulation of diplomatic negotiations and business lobbying to cut cross-channel tariffs and seek other ways to promote free trade. With the increasingly fierce geopolitical competition on trade issues in the world today, “we can benefit by looking back at the earliest efforts to institutionalize a stable and peaceful global order.”

The period after the British Glorious Revolution of 1688 confirmed the dominance of parliament and Protestantism. This was the first period when geopolitics was driven mainly by capitalism rather than by religious or dynastic competition. When Britain established the Bank of England in 1694, it spurred commerce by introducing public credit and expanding the money supply, which robbed France of the limelight. It could have ruled Europe as a “benevolent overlord” without having to compete with the United Kingdom and the Dutch Republic for the trade of Hispanics, thus ensuring the maintenance of its currency and the silver currency that suppressed its money supply. Schoflin believes that paper money is the key to ending trade jealousy, because although there is still some demand for silver, it “will no longer be the lifeblood of the kingdom.”

“The Founding of the Bank of England, 1694” (1905), The History of England from Kassel, Volume Three © The Print Collector

Instead, fierce trade competition between France and Britain evolved into a series of wars. As Schofflin said: “Once established, hegemony will be stable; future hegemony may release immense violence.” The first of these wars lasted from 1688 to 1713, when France, Britain and the Dutch Republic signed The “Treaty of Utrecht.” (The clever John Law also came up with an idea in 1717 to convert 250 million livres of unfunded French war debts into stocks of highly liquid companies that help the money supply.) In the 1720s and 1730s, the United Kingdom Long-term peace between Sir Robert Walpole and France under the leadership of Cardinal Fleury. Walpole stepped down in 1742, Fleury died in 1743, and Britain and France fought again the following year, this time for four years. Then at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War in 1756, French-British conflicts broke out in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, India, and Europe.

In the 1760s, Britain tried to use smuggling between Britain and the Bourbon Empire to weaken its rivals, while France used the free port as a counterattack. Free trade is not so much a goal as it is one of the strategies to maintain the balance of power among trading opponents.

But Xiao Fulin is more interested in the various attempts to get rid of the war policy, as well as the various plans proposed by diplomats, literati and mosques, and others. philosopher Encourage trade to replace war. For example, the French heavy farming originally wanted France to become an agricultural generator, but later changed its mind and proposed a French-British partnership to control global trade, on the grounds that without Britain or France, no other country could maintain the conflict. financial. David Hume deplored the obstructive effect of British war debts on the economy, and opposed the old Pitt’s dream of a universal monarchy of trade, because the burden of maintaining sovereign empire territory far exceeded the commercial benefits of a closed empire.

Robert Clive and Mir Jafar after the Battle of Placy in 1757, Francis Hyman (1760) © Alamy

Congressman Thomas Pownall, the former governor of Massachusetts and South Carolina, has always been a staunch defender of the British monopoly on American trade. However, after 1776, in Schofflin’s words, he accepted “a view of the United States” and urged the United Kingdom to Which plays a leading role. In fact, the commercial independence of the United States is a game changer, and the benefits of free trade in the 19th century to Britain were enough to make up for her losses in the American colonies. At the same time, the newly established French Indian Company and the British East India Company reached a settlement on the Bangladesh trade issue, while the Earl of Vergenes negotiated a Anglo-French trade treaty. Those who are struggling with Brexit should probably pay attention.

For Schofflin, it is not so much a question of how things will be different if certain counterfactuals prevail, but rather a question of how far such counterfactuals have caused policymakers to ease and change direction. He was careful not to overemphasize the influence of physiocrats and Scottish political economists on policy. “Officials borrowed ideas in an eclectic manner,” he wrote, “and instrumentally mobilized them according to their priorities.” Free trade became a gospel in the 19th century, but its advocates continued throughout the 18th century. Both sides of the English Channel paved the way for it.

Dealing with the enemy: Britain, France, and the pursuit of a peaceful world order in the 18th century Author: John Schofflin Yale University, £25, 416 pages

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