The Doctrine of Universal Economy and the Regulation of International Trade
34 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2018 Last revised: 19 May 2020
Date Written: May 19, 2020
Fifty years ago, economist Jacob Viner argued that a Greco-Roman narrative about intercultural exchange played a significant role in the development of liberal economic thought. This article traces the ways the doctrine of universal economy, has shaped our thinking about economics and trade. To this end, I answer three research questions. First, what happened to the doctrine of universal economy? Second, why did the doctrine survive into the modern era when it has frequently been a controversial proposition and a minority perspective? Finally, what are the implications for the regulation of international trade? The doctrine of universal economy altered the historical trajectory of trade regulation by forwarding a counterintuitive narrative about the positive-sum relationship between trade and peace. Furthermore, it offers important insights about the pre-modern, cosmopolitan roots of liberalism and may therefore contain an antidote for the cultural nativism of the populist present.
Keywords: Trade, Multilateralism, International Political Economy, Liberalism
JEL Classification: B11, B25, F13, N43, Z12, Z13
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