Hi Dr. Jewell,
I am currently reading “The Great Transformation” by Karl Polanyi who argues that the emergence of international trade prior to the industrial revolution was of a competitive nature, whereas local and “external” trade was non-competitive. He makes the argument that this competitive international trade was resisted to in the country side and that it was eventually “forced” upon the people. Are you familiar with the book or this argument? Thank You!
I’m not too familiar with the book, but on the basis of what I have read, I think it misses the mark by a bit. I think the main thesis is something about modern economic institutions turning people into utility maximizers as opposed to being more cooperative. Austrian thinkers and more recent readers of Adam Smith simply explain this by pointing to the obvious fact that trade conducted at a distance minimizes personal connections between the parties to the trade, and that this will lead to more weight being placed on purely economic considerations.
Is this answer helpful, or are you getting at something else with your question?