The discussion over if humans are mostly good or mostly evil is the basis of most every political ideology. This applies to both social and economic policies. For example, when it comes to socialism and capitalism, the socialist would argue that people are mostly evil and need a government to control them, where as a capitalist would argue that humans are mostly good, and the government should, for the most part, stay out of their way. And so the great ideological rivalry forms between them. When considering the origin of free trade, of capitalism, I have found that the very existence of capitalism itself IS evidence of some level of human goodness.
So what is the origin of free trade? Well, it’s been around longer than the written language. The origin of trade is the second person A thought “hmm I have a thing that person B wants, and they have something I want, we should exchange things!” the moment that exchanged happened, human goodness was shown. How? Well, Person A did not have to trade. He could have stolen from person B. He could have, potentially, even killed person B…but he didn’t. He, or she, choose to take a peaceful route, despite it perhaps being more advantages to them to steal. After all, if they had stolen, they would have been able to keep the item of exchange value, and gain whatever it is they wanted from person B.
That decision, was made because humans do not naturally desire to hurt other humans. Even if it puts us at some level of disadvantage. This is evidence of human goodness. It’s what separates us from the animals, trade is human nature. It’s more than just a smart thing to do, it’s a part of who we are as people, as civilized people.
So when a socialist, or communist, insists that free trade is evidence of human greed rather than human goodness, they fail to acknowledge where it comes from, what it truly is. The way it allowed humans to amass wealth, as is their nature. And the key part, is it has allowed them to amass the wealth in a peaceful manner. Quoting Walter E Williams ”Prior to Capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealth by serving your fellow man.”
Capitalism is not just the logical approach to amassing wealth for the masses, its also the most moral approach to allow the amassing of wealth in the first place.