Contribution No.3 to the debate on FREE TRADE:


About the words "free trade"

(Excerpt from IU Newsletter, No. 9, November 2000)


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One reason for sending this Newsletter now is that we all need to be doing some serious thinking about the words "free trade".


Regrettably, this term has been hijacked and in many non-Georgist minds (who very well understood its meaning) it has become linked to merciless big business practice that penalise the poor.


The days when it was a clarion call and conference halls were named for it, like the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, seem sadly to have gone.


The logo for the International Union was FREE LAND - FREE TRADE - FREE MEN. What a banner to walk behind! But this is yesterday. We have to deal with the present.


Alanna has drawn our attention to problems she finds in our name and Ole and others are concerned that free trade means to some, licence to traffic in harmful commodities and without regard to the welfare of humans and animals and indeed, nature itself.


We shall need to make this issue an item on the General Business Meeting agenda, but it would be helpful if all of you could start giving thought to it now. What alternative description is there that can be coined simply and shortly to cover trade without unnecessary barriers and interference and opportunities for privilege?


At an International Union Conference some years ago, because some members found that arguing the case for land value taxation and free trade at the same time presented problems and felt that taking them as separate issues was easier, it was agreed that we should have two letterheads, one for land value taxation and one for free trade and these were in use for several years, the office choosing whichever was appropriate. To do this now would mean really leaving the free trade argument out of the picture altogether so far as the IU's original name is concerned, and it is part of the Georgist message.


Even if you will not be able to attend the 2001 Edinburgh Conference, do please put your thoughts on paper and send them to the office so that they can be added to the debate, or email to


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The reader's comments are very welcome. Please send a letter to the International Georgist Union, 212 Piccadilly, W1J 9HG, United Kingdom, or e-mail to


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