Pirates As Market Heroes   Leave a comment

Image result for image of pirates as free merchantsAs the government’s mercantilist policies restricted and diverted manufacturing, commerce, and trade into directions that opposed the desires of individuals, another market began to develop. This black market of smuggling was incentivized by mercantilism’s failures to get around the government’s economic controls.

The liberal economists of the nineteenth century understood that misplaced, distorted, and restrictive regulations suppressed more open trade within and between nations and warned that these policies would necessarily create corrective reaction in the form of black marketeers who went over, under and around the commands of the state. Explained Jerome-Adolph Blanqui:

“It is in the nature of bad institutions never to be respected, and to give birth to protests that end in bringing about reform; smuggling was to the exclusive system [mercantilism] the constant and the most expressive of these protests …

“It is as exact in its deliveries as the most scrupulous merchant; it braves the seasons and defies the best-guarded lines of customhouses, to such a degree that assurance companies, which protect it, count upon fewer losses than any other.

“Smuggling is, in fact, the only means that remains to the various industries to procure for themselves the prohibited products whose use is indispensable for them …

“It is owing to smuggling that commerce did not perish under the {Mercantilist] regime … While savants discuss and commerce entreats, contrabandage acts and decides on the frontier; it presents itself with the irresistible power of actual facts, and freedom of trade has never won a victory for which smuggling has not prepared the way.”  Jerome-Adolph Blanqui

The black marketeer was considered an important element of moving the economic system in the direction of free market reform.

The smuggler is a radical and judicious reformer. The smuggler is essential to the well being of the whole nation. All external commerce depends on him.

[However] I am far from thinking that the direct effect of his [the smuggler’s] exertions in giving us a free trade in those commodities which, from their bulk and value, fall within his province, are any compensation for the crime, misery and the public expense [of the mercantilist system].” Nassau Senior, Three Lectures on the Transmission of the Precious Metals from Country to Country, and the Mercantile Theory of Wealth (1828)

In the last decades of the 18th century, arguments questioned the mercantilist conception of society and the economy. Leading centers of change in France and Scotland put forth ideas that undermined the rationales for government regulation and control of economic activities in society. What arose in counterbalance was a vision of a free society based on individual liberty, free trade, and market-based and -directed prosperity.

Although I haven’t gotten to pirates yet in the Daermad Cycle, they will play a role later in the series. Might as well get started reading the series so you’re prepared.

Posted November 3, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in History

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