Excerpt from The National System of Political Economy
It was this testimony to the practical inﬂuence of List's economical theories which first attracted my attention to his writings, and a perusal of them induced me to undertake the translation of the following work, with a view to affording English readers an opportunity of judging for themselves as to the truth of his statements and the soundness of his argu ments.
The work consists of four parts - the History, the Theory, the Systems, and the Politics of National Economy. It is important to bear in mind that all were written before 1844, and the fourth part in particular treats of political circum stances and of commercial policies which have now for the most part ceased to exist. The Corn Laws, the Navigation Laws, and the generally protectionist tariff of Great Britain were then still unrepealed; the manufacturing industry of Germany was still in its infancy, and the comparatively moderate tariff of the German States still permitted England to supply them with the greater part of the manufactured goods which they required.
At first sight, therefore, it would seem an anachronism to place before the reader of to-day a work having special re lation to a state of things which existed forty years ago. The principles, however, enunciated by List are in their main features as applicable at one time as at another, and it will be found that they possess two especially powerful claims to consideration at the present moment.
In the first place, there is good reason for believing that they have directly inspired the commercial policy of two of the greatest nations of the world, Germany and the United States of America; and in the next, they supply a definite scientific basis for those protectionist doctrines which, al though acted upon by our English-speaking colonies and held by not a few practical men as well as by some com mercial economists in this country, have hitherto been only partially and inadequately formulated by English writers.
The fundamental idea of List's theory will be seen to be the free import of agricultural products and raw materials combined with an effective but not excessive protection (by means of customs duties) of native manufacturing industry against foreign competition. According to his views, the most efficient support of native production of agricultural products and raw materials is the maintenance within the nation of ﬂourishing manufacturing industry thus protected. The system which he advocates differs, therefore, on the one hand from the unconditionally free import system of one-sided free trade adopted by England, and on the other from the system now apparently approved by Prince Bismarck, of imposing protective duties on the import of food and raw materials as well as on that of manufactured goods.
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