When Eloquence Pays Dividends: David Ricardo's Defense of Free Trade
Antonio DiRenzo, writing.
Tuesday, December 9, 12:10-1:00 p.m., Clark Lounge, Campus Center.
English economist David Ricardo (1772-1823) is best known for formulating the theory of comparative advantage, but in his day he was equally appreciated as a journalist, pundit, and public intellectual. Unlike his great predecessor Adam Smith, this son of an immigrant Jewish stockbroker lacked formal education; but an early passion for reading, writing, and conversation transformed him into a masterful prose stylist and witty public debater. During the dire post-Napoleonic depression, a time of violent isolationism and blind protectionism, Ricardo passionately defended international free trade in a series of persuasive editorials, articles, and pamphlets and eventually became one of the most respected and articulate MPs in the House of Commons. According to most economic historians, Ricardo's eloquence directly contributed to England's power and prosperity in the mid-19th century.
This talk will focus on Ricardo's rhetorical techniques and strategies (so evident in his 20-year public correpondence with his friend and rival Thomas Malthus), his marvelous speeches and tracts, and his public relations campaign against the English corn laws, which finally were abolished a quarter century after his death.
As always, we invite you to bring lunch and enjoy coffee and treats, whether you need to arrive late or leave early.
Please propose a colloquium by contacting Susanne Morgan.
Next semester's schedule is forming -- see Center for Faculty Excellence.
Contributed by Susanne Morgan