When the Left thought free trade meant peace (Alex Middleton, 5/10/24, The Critic)

The received wisdom, Palen suggests, is that the late-twentieth-century triumph of free-market thinking was a right-wing achievement, with its origins in the interwar decades. This consensus has cracked in the face of challenges from other, newer, equally formidable strands of right-wing anti-globalism. Put simply, the dominant economic cosmologies of our time have been defined by battles within conservatism.

Palen proposes to explode these myths. He says that things look very different if we go back to the 1840s, to Manchester Liberalism and to the political ideologies associated with Richard Cobden. With its overlapping commitments to free trade, peace and anti-imperialism, Cobdenism heralded a century and more of free-trade globalism being led — intellectually — by left-of-centre thinkers.

Socialists, communists and liberals were united by a conviction that free trade could, and would, promote democracy and justice. They also believed that it might produce, on the one hand, the end of war and, on the other, the collapse of the more pernicious imperial projects.

What the book basically wants to communicate is that the international peace movements active between the mid-nineteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries were deeply invested in the policy and philosophy of free trade.