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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 448 of Tom Palmer’s excellent 2009 book, Realizing Freedom (brackets original to Palmer; link added):

Despite all of the language of “market takeovers” and “price wars,” the market is a forum for voluntary persuasion, as Adam Smith emphasized in his Lectures on Jurisprudence when discussing the price system: “If we should enquire into the principle in the human mind on which this disposition of trucking [i.e., of trading] is founded, it is clearly on the naturall inclination every one of us has to persuade.  The offering of a shilling, which to us appears to have so plain and simple a meaning, is in reality offering an argument to persuade one to do so and so as it is for his interest.”

DBx: Surely in any society whose members have even the slightest pretense toward being peaceful, even the slightest hope for equality before the law, and even the slightest wish for widespread prosperity, actions that are voluntary deserve a strong presumption of legitimacy while the use of force to obstruct those actions warrant a strong presumption of illegitimacy.  Yet too often the “failure” of patterns of voluntary, peaceful actions to result in ideal imagined outcomes is immediately taken to be sufficient justification for those who can imagine these ideal outcomes to use coercion by the state to block or to otherwise interfere with peaceful, voluntary exchanges.

This reality must never be forgotten (although in practice it is too-seldom recognized): trade is peaceful; obstructions of trade are coercive.  With trade, each party peacefully persuades the other to cooperate with him or her; with obstructions to trade, one party threatens to kill or to cage those who refuse to obey his dictates.  (If you think that “to kill or to cage” is too strong, ask yourself what would happen, say, to an importer who refuses to turn over to the state the tariff revenues that the state demands.)  With trade, each party earns his or her benefit from that trade by helping his or her trade partner also to benefit from that trade; with obstructions to trade, one party – because he or she can use force – can ignore the interest of the other party.  Indeed, whoever restores to initiating force against another person typically does so because that other person will not be made better off by the proposed exchange and, hence, must be coerced to carry it out.

Trade is civilized and civilizing.  Obstructions to trade are uncivilized and a cancer on civilization.