Climate and Religion in Protectionism

6.1. Climate change and protectionism

The climate changes of the last millennium have been small variations around a rather cold average position. Contemporary global warming is counteracting this long-term trend. The work of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie [LER 09] on the last millennium leads us to speak of two small hot episodes since the year 1000, the beautiful 13th Century and the beautiful 16th Century, and of a marked cooling before the contemporary warming that began around 1846. This last period provides examples of protectionist tariffs in relation to a hot climate phase, as we are currently experiencing with Donald Trump’s protectionist and pro-carbon policy. The 1928 Smoot-Hawley Tariff had already declined as a protectionist response to a hot climate: in response to a drought on the plains of the American West, Smoot, a Mormon congressman responsible for the beet lobby and promoter of censorship of literary works such as that of D.H. Lawrence, imposed his prohibitionist tariff at the time of the financial crisis of 1929, a tariff that provoked a chain reaction of customs overbidding and caused the collapse of world trade. A hot phase situation was also witnessed for the Meline and McKinley tariffs just like for the 1907 wine crisis. The rise in temperatures led to exceptional harvests and cultivation, which caused a fall in prices and reinforced protectionist policies. However, the introduction of Free Trade in 1846 in England was the result of a climatic reversal. The arrival of a hot and humid climate had spread mildew to potatoes, causing a famine and the deaths of 1 million people in Ireland.

The emergence of protectionism between 1500 and 1700 took place in a cold climate: global production declined due to climate degradation, competition between countries became more intense, and public trade policies and the actions of traders were brought into line with each other.

This 1000-year-old perspective highlights a classical age – from the 16th to the beginning of the 19th Century – for what is called protectionism or mercantilism. Subsistence riots caused by high food prices, programmatic formulations of policed countries and great famines that reached 1 million deaths formed a concentration of extremes for this period [LER 09, I, p. 51]. The previous hot phase may have seen some public measures taken in response to famine, even power struggles, as well as a lack of trade policy formalization. The circumstances of the great flood of Grenoble in 1219 entailed rivers swollen by the melting of glaciers due to a warm climatic variation and a gathering of the population due to a large fair in a gigantic catastrophic confluence. The great programmatic formulations of mercantilism and protectionism were situated in one of the great climatic movements, which stretched from the warmth of the end of the quattrocento to the record of cold and famine at the end of the 17th Century. Events, theoretical renewals and the volatility of indicators such as prices then faded away, to quote Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie’s conclusions [LER 09].

The initial question, whether protectionism is climatically pro-cyclical or counter-cyclical, does not receive validation in one way or another according to the work of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie over the last millennium (see Figure 6.1). However, a positive response is emerging to a question formulated in terms of climate change and cultural transformations: protectionism and mercantilism took on their full dimensions in a period that saw the most extensive climate change of the millennium 950–1950, the period from the hottest quattrocento to the great cold of the late 17th Century and the great famine of 1693–1694. The birth of protectionism can be found in this cooling episode between the climatic extremes of the millennium 950–1950 from the hottest to the coldest. In short, a cold weathering of the climate induced a reconciliation between traders and politicians in a strengthening of products and an exacerbated competition between countries. The shift to the hot and humid phase introduced a reversal towards Free Trade, after a terrible catastrophe resulting from the protectionist policy applied at the beginning of the hot and humid phase, the great Irish famine.

Three reference programs of mercantilism and protectionism followed one another during this cooling of 1570–1846. The first is from the papal bulls, the intervention of the Pope immediately after the first voyage of Christopher Columbus. Two princes, Spanish and Portuguese, shared the future income of a planet divided by a border under papal aegis. Galleons were used to transport wealth, as well as to transfer people suspected of not being good Catholics to the courts of Inquisition.


Figure 6.1. Climate and protectionism. Source: [LER 09]. For a color version of this figure, see www.iste.co.uk/alaktif/climate.zip

The second type, the programmatic formulation of economic nationalism, took place at the time of the “poule au pot”1 episode, a short respite in the cooling process before the famines of 1622 and 1630. In this context of scarcity, the prohibition of the cultivation of vines on agricultural land was pronounced by Louis XIII in 1627. This assertion of the public administrations was made in the formulation of a religious policy in which the Prince relied on a religious syncretism imposed in his Kingdom.

The third formulation of protectionism, Montesquieu’s, was based on an assessment of the failures recorded by these first two forms of protectionism, the most emblematic of which were Spanish bullionism for the “religious” type of protectionism, and French colbertism for the second type, that of economic nationalism. Montesquieu wrote that these economic policies led to ruin, war and famine. Montesquieu did not rule out the use of customs taxes, but this was based on a taxation theory, which should have been as invisible as possible for taxpayers. Public finances were in great difficulty at the beginning of the 18th Century, hence the emphasis on the fiscal dimension of trade policy. While the means of economic policies, generally customs tariffs, were similar, the religious policies associated with these three types of protectionist economic policies were very clearly different: proselytism of a true religion that needed to be propagated; syncretism attached to a sovereign; or the prevention of inter-religious tensions, according to Montesquieu.

Analyses of the religion and protectionism theme can be made either in terms of structure or content. The analytical methodology of the structure of religions can be traced back to Adam Smith and Montesquieu [MON 51], as well as Durkheim [DUR 12]. The discussion of the content of religions is based on Max Weber’s approach [WEB 03]. The major monographs in economic history focus on the history of trade policies and controversies over the theories of international exchange. Our work owes much to Irwin’s summaries for the United States [IRW 11; IRW 17] and Todd’s for France [TOD 09].

For the sake of clarity, we will follow a chronological order, devoting ourselves to three main periods: firstly that of humanism and mercantilism (section 6.2), then that of parliamentary protectionism (section 6.3) and finally that of the opposition between interfaith dialogue and fundamentalism (section 6.4).

6.2. Mercantilism and religion

Irwin [IRW 17] proposes a three-phase schema of protectionism based on the history of US trade policy: firstly, fiscal concerns in the post-independence period, then restrictive parliamentary protectionism and finally bilateral protectionist agreements promoted by Senator Blaine from 1881 onwards, mainly for Central and Latin American countries. In Europe, Antoine de Montchrestien’s Traité d’économie politique [MON 99] is a collection of elements from the 1614 Estates General that gives programmatic formulations for economic nationalism. The Blaine-type agreement corresponds to a central concern of 17th Century European mercantilism, i.e. that of the opening up of external markets to the production of domestic manufactures. The hypothesis was that this pattern of mixing fiscal, trade and religious concerns was not only unique to the United States but could be generalized. It entered Europe after the Braudelian episode of the economic dynamism of the Italian cities during the early Renaissance [BRA 75]. The Weberian episode of a new individual asceticism corresponds to the middle of the process, that of the theorizations in Montchrestian’s Treaty of an economic nationalism.

Mercantilism between the 16th and 18th Centuries was broken down by period according to the type of religious policies followed by most countries. 19th Century protectionism combined these different versions simultaneously in different countries. Three periods can be distinguished for the relationship between mercantilism and religious issues. A first period was that of universal fragmentation at the time of the turn of European intellectual life towards humanism and the Reformation. This founding episode came after the Braudelian episode of Italian urban dynamics, and before the ascetic Weberian episode that led to a reformulation of mercantilism. The fragmentation of the world resulted from the sharing of the papal bulls, attributing to Spain and Portugal each half of the planet, and then, from the principle affirmed in Augsburg in 1555, attributing to each Prince a region with its religion. A second period was that of absolutist states, conceiving international exchange on the principle of a zero-sum game: what one wins, the other loses. Public interventionism took place in the economic and religious fields. A third period was that of a questioning of absolutist politics, as well as the “Spanish” version of mercantilism, called “bullionism”. The concept of international trade was being modernized, while customs revenue remained the favored source over other sources of government revenue. Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws [MON 51] is one of the theoretical overviews of this type of policy with a reference definition of the structure of public institutions, particularly in religious matters.

The terms “mercantilism” and “protectionism” were introduced in the 18th and 19th Centuries respectively. Thiers introduced the term “protectionism” with a claim to the competence of political staff vis-à-vis economists, the same ones who had introduced the term “mercantilism” to designate an interventionism of politicians. Whether it is “mercantilism” or “protectionism”, it is therefore a political arbitration procedure, independent of economic evaluation. In the formation of this compromise, the place of religious power may be different: it may itself be the arbiter (as in the case of the papal bulls, the arbitration of the papacy after the first voyage of Christopher Columbus), a national syncretism may legitimize that it is the politics itself that is the arbiter, or the religious and the political may be part of a general scheme of dynamic balance of power, as is the case from Locke and Montesquieu’s work.

Tocqueville had spoken about Andrew Jackson’s “decentralizing passions” [TOC 81]. Andrew Jackson first failed as a candidate for the president of the United States in 1824. He won the election of 1828 thanks to a protectionist outbidding, which opened a major crisis known as the Tariff of Abominations due to the secession of a State of the Union with an economy based on the export of agricultural products. The credible threat of secession then brought the tariff down. Economic nationalism of the 1830s was only one form of protectionism. For the United States, succession was associated with customs revenue protectionism, still attributed to Jackson, then that of economic nationalism, and finally that of regionalism based on the principle of bilateral agreements that Blaine set out in 1881. Previous European history had gone through this same list in a retrograde fashion: first, there had been the establishment of protective regionalisms with colonization, then economic nationalism in the 17th Century and the formulation of a policy of customs revenue and religious freedom. The latter had been taken over by the founding fathers of the United States.

Table 6.1. Types of protectionism

Type of mercantilism/protectionism Religious regionalism Economic nationalism Customs revenue
USA 1776–2019 Bilateral agreements in Central and South America Clay and Monroe’s isolationism Period from the founding fathers to Jackson
Europe 1492–1799 Colonialism Montchrestien’s Treaty Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws
Associated religious policy Religious proselytizing Arbitration is entrusted to the religious function Absolutism Arbitration is entrusted to the labor function Religious freedom Arbitration is entrusted to the aristocratic function

Recent data allow a hierarchical classification of the three types of policies mixing trade and religion. If the arbiter is religious, the policies are the most protectionist, then come economic nationalisms and finally customs revenue policies. As religious and cultural diversity increases, trade protectionism tends to decline (for the world as a whole in 2016: high diversity, protected share of tariff 6.5%, and tariff protection 2.46%; intermediate level of diversity, 10.7% and 4.8% respectively; low diversity: 21.5% and 5.24% respectively). The very long term series on customs taxation are punctuated by protectionist crises such as the Abomination Tariff. These are the phenomena of regulatory inflation, with dynamic balances depending on the provisions of powers, for example, in the case of Andrew Jackson, the existence of a credible threat of secession of an exporting region in the event of a high tariff.

6.2.1. Papal bulls, an example of religious regionalism

Arrangements prior to the voyage of 1492 were favorable to the court of Portugal, which controlled the islands from which the caravels of Christopher Columbus, chartered by the kingdom of Castile, departed. Pope Alexander VI came from the Spanish Borgia family, which derived its power from the arbitration between the various small princely courts of the Iberian Peninsula. The five papal bulls were intended to settle the dispute between Castile and Portugal shortly after the return of Christopher Columbus. Bulls achieved a sharing of future income from res nullius, things deemed to be ownerless. This compromise was legally little different from an agreement between two owners for game on hunting grounds, where wildlife is deemed to be without an owner. The Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 established a boundary that followed a meridian beyond the last Portuguese possession. It was in force until the Treaty of Zaragoza of 1529 which determined a meridian 46°37 West in the Atlantic and 142° in the Pacific, including the Philippines on the Spanish side and Brazil on the Portuguese side.

The pact between the two kingdoms was a compromise on territorial claims. The craftsman of compromise was the Pope, arbitrator for peace by avoiding conflict. The principle of sharing the planet was that the lands explored by the Portuguese before 1492 were allocated to them, and the new ones to the Spanish. In the papal bulls, the border was defined by an act of distributive justice, limiting a principle of equality between the Portuguese and Spanish only. The legal term used was that of a gift to the two Princes. Columbus was in favor of leaving the part of the Atlantic already under Portuguese control, and thought he had only discovered the direct route to India. It was not until 1498 that the prospect of a new continent was raised. Columbus presented the planet as always fit for habitation. Climates, according to his humanistic conceptions, could be modified at will by man, in particular through forest management. Columbus minimized the negative climatic transformations he perceived. He experienced violent storms in the Caribbean, and only noted that the climate changed when crossing the Atlantic. The distance at which this change was perceived was taken as the boundary by the papal bulls ([PIS 98], p. 469). The voluntarist nature of the development was presented by Columbus as an effect of Spanish sovereignty, which would have the capacity to modify the natural elements as it wished, to domesticate the populations, as well as the fauna, or to eliminate the rigors of the climate. These arguments put under the navigator’s signature supported the Spanish claims, finally recognized by the papal bulls.

The first formulations of mercantilism, those of bullionism, were made as early as the time of papal bulls. Seyssel in France as early as 1515 measured the power of the kingdom by its stock of gold and silver, and advocated a bullionist policy of prohibiting the export of precious metals and the import of goods ([DEY 69], p. 15). Export restrictions were often greater than import restrictions. France introduced a unified tariff in the kingdom in 1581, with export taxes higher than import taxes on necessary foodstuffs, because of local administrators’ fears of disruption of supplies, price rises and shortages. These mercantilist injunctions came from court counsellors. In the case of Spain, trade agents may have been clerics, like Pope Alexander VI, and the galleons carried out transfers of accused or convicted persons on behalf of the ecclesiastical courts.

Fighting princes, a religious arbiter validated a sharing rule in the name of peace by disposing of nature: this religious regionalism was also understood as proselytism. It was a question of extending a faith to the whole planet. However, this Alexandrian peace proved to be particularly unstable: the other European Princes, then Luther, encouraged a dynamic of fragmentation. The latter generated Churches that were autonomous from Rome, and multiple principalities, in application of the principle of religious homogeneity of the territories set out in the Treaty of Augsburg of 1555.

Another characteristic was the dynamics of monetary inflation induced by bullionism. This gave impetus to work in money theory, a concern also found among theorists such as Locke and Montesquieu.

6.2.2. Economic nationalism

Antoine de Montchrestien’s “treatrise of political economy” [MON 99] was published a century after Charles de Seyssel’s work. It was written on the occasion of the Estates General of 1614 and speaks in the name of the third estate. Montesquieu speaks on behalf of the aristocracy and religious regionalism on behalf of the clergy: the types of protectionism or mercantilism respect the Dumézilian trifunctionality, in the sense that an arbitration is entrusted to a function (religious, laborious or aristocratic) in a preferential way.

Antoine de Montchrestien was a literary man, author of tragedies and also governor of the Protestant Chatillon-sur-Loire, where he owned a knife factory. He gathered lampoons from the third estate, with a strong xenophobic tone. The Spanish were the enemy, the Dutch the rivals and as for the direct competitors of the cutlery industry, such as the Flemish and Savoyards, there needed to be “a protection of the French species, otherwise the Republic will be populated by half-breeds” [MON 99]. According to Montchrestien, the king was referee, he was the sovereign moderator. He should be assisted by a college of censors, appointed by the King. The work was circumstantial, sometimes repeating in extenso writings dating from previous Estates General. The sovereign needed to be a great “ménagier”, a manager one would say today. He needed to have a Church that had distanced itself from Rome. This Gallican doctrine in religious matters added to the sovereign an administration of censorship and formed a governance that steered the kingdom through a national syncretic religion. “Be the King, since you are. Order, since it belongs to you. And to all, for all are your subjects. Do not suffer any to be recognized as having a power greater than yours” ([MON 99], p. 229).

Aggregation of interests took place within the kingdom so that the rule “what one gains, the other loses” did not apply between fellow citizens. Puritanism was expressed in the zeal for work and the quest for profit, in accordance with the Weberian expression of entrepreneurial ethics. Montchrestien’s economic nationalism was the formulation of an asceticism of work and profit, of a protection of local industries, combined with a political-religious absolutism.

6.2.3. Customs revenue

Colbertism promoted exports by national companies. International trade continued to be perceived as a subtraction of domestic wealth, including for exports by nationals. Local administrators remained very reluctant to lower export taxes, wishing to promote food-producing agriculture and industries stamped by the royal power. Prohibitions on planting vines made under Louis XIII were reiterated under Louis XV.

Criticism of absolutism and the defense of the rights of Parliaments began at the end of the 17th Century. John Locke proposed a policy of tolerance to prevent any recurrence of civil war resulting from tensions between different religious groups. John Locke was in charge of English commercial policy from 1696. However, he remained a mercantilist, seeking trade surplus in his exercise of power. He introduced a notion of consent into the procedure, which changed the conception of the necessary arbitral power.

These principles were further developed by Montesquieu in his 1754 work on The Spirit of the Laws [MON 51]. Montesquieu’s thinking was based on the observation of a double failure of previous policies, the Spanish path of accumulation of precious metals and that of absolutism in France. This reflection took place between the various tax reforms proposed after the bankruptcy of public finances in France at the end of the 17th Century. Montesquieu rejected securitization of the public debt, that of Law, which he considered democratic, as well as Vauban’s proposed proportional, individual and universal direct tax. Montesquieu’s approach in his chapter on taxation (Book XIII from The Spirit of the Laws) is comparative and concludes with a priority to be given to taxes levied on goods. The fiscal power, the ability of a state to raise taxes, seemed to him to be weakened by direct taxation, although he pointed out that this ability depends on the sum of the various taxes, direct, indirect or otherwise. However, he selected a mobile tax base, weakening tax power in another way. Vauban, however, retained the principle of proportionality; otherwise “the prince removes the illusion from his subjects” ([MON 51], p. 463). Montesquieu’s early writings deal with the management of a balanced public budget and the failure of the Spanish approach. The work is based on the need to have a fiscal power that enables the annual balancing of the public budget. This tax power is proportional to the type of political system and to the difference between perceived and actual tax rates. Fiscal power depends on “freedom” and “illusion”, which is why it promotes indirect taxation: “the rights on goods are those that people feel the least about, because they are not formally asked for them. They can be so wisely managed that the people will not know that they are paying for them” (ibid., p. 462). He recommended taxing commercial intermediaries instead, such as the innkeeper ordering a large number of barrels, in order to conceal the tax from the end consumer.

The Bordeaux Parliament was established at the time of vineyard expansion, under the impetus of Arnaud de Ponsac, who was to be its first president. Tensions with the royal administration stemmed from his efforts to develop agriculture that could feed the city and provide food for the rural population. Montesquieu’s constraints were of several kinds: to avoid the development of a democratic citizenship induced by most of the proposals of the tax reformers in France, to ensure sufficient fiscal power to guarantee the balance of public finances and to guard against regulatory or tariff inflation affecting the Bordeaux vineyards. The compromise between trade and customs required a greater role for parliamentary intermediation in the setting of indirect contributions.

Montesquieu’s religious policies were in an exclusive 1 or N alternative. Either there was only one religion in the country, in which case the civil power could not seek to create a religion as it pleased or to promote a new expansionist religion, or there were several religions, in which case the civil power needed to defend all existing religions in an egalitarian manner. Civil religious policy was therefore marked by a concern for the prevention of inter-religious and internal conflicts between different faiths.

6.3. Parliamentary protectionism and religion: a comparison of France and the United States

The terms “protectionism” and “free trade” were introduced into the French language around 1830 by the preacher La Mennais and parliamentary discussions. Protectionism was defended by Adolphe Thiers as a Middle Ground between the prohibitionism of the Ultras and the free trade defended by all the romantic orators. It was presented by Thiers as an attenuation of the previous trade policies still defended by Ultras, excluding all foreign goods, promoting slavery and granting by special provisions a monopoly to certain domestic producers. The program of a Party of the Order embodied by Thiers combined measures promoting Catholic denominational education through the Falloux law, and agricultural and industrial protectionism.

Clay and Monroe’s formulation of economic nationalism occurred early in the history of the United States [IRW 17] and succeeded the pre-independence British colonial system of 1776. The protectionist outbursts in the United States in 1828 and 1928 were the results of the interplay of economic and political actors that did not seem very different from the French case. For example, the same agro-industrial sector, that of sugar beet, played a decisive role in triggering regulatory overbidding in both the French and American cases, with different religious policies, Concordat in the French case, religious freedom in the American case. The history of American trade policy demonstrates three forms of protectionism (the federal government’s use of protectionism to supplement the public budget, the restriction of isolationism and the reciprocal nature of trade agreements) which explain the failure of the third of Wilson’s 14 points on the role of trade in preserving world peace. In his 1919 State of the Union address, Wilson noted the great controversies in U.S. trade policy between those who promoted tax revenue protectionism and those who promoted protection of industries [IRW 17]. The transatlantic trade agreements of the 1914–1918 war had changed the situation, but this had not been reflected in the internal political debates in the United States, which were confined to sectoral specifications of trade policies and to a choice limited to varieties of protectionism.

Parliamentary regimes in France and the United States failed to dominate protectionist outbursts in the 19th Century, even though these may have led to situations of civil war, such as the American Civil War. While the fault line was spatial between two conceptions of protectionism in the United States, between North and South, the fault line in France opposed protectionism and free trade, and was found not only in the conception of trade policy, but in all intellectual life. Gustave Flaubert had answered to a reader who was a bit confused by multiple oppositions such as “free trade and protectionism”, or “romanticism and classicism”, that a single reading axis was enough, opposing modernity (or free trade, or romanticism) and tradition (or protectionism, or classicism) [TOD 09].

In studies on cultures and religion, one of the most common tools is Inglehart’s maps, which present two generally distinct axes, an axis “from survival to individual expression” intersecting with that of the opposition “tradition and modernity”. Protectionism in the United States has as its contemporary coordinates the cultural reconciliation of “individual expression and tradition” according to the latest World Value Survey data.

France and the United States presented the installation of a bipolarized political system in the 19th Century, and questions of trade policy and religious policy were decisive for this. The electoral sociology of trade issues pitted electoral districts against each other according to the export share of activities carried out, whether in France or the United States. Religious policies were different in France and the United States in the 19th Century, with the Concordat with Catholic religion in France and religious freedom in the United States. As Flaubert explains in his correspondence, in France the bipolar situation was relatively simple, at least as far as trade policies were concerned: on the one hand, there was the tradition of a Party of the Order which was protectionist, and, on the other hand, the romantic writers sitting on the left of the hemicycle who were not. In France, protectionism was predominant from regions mainly located in the North-West, beyond a line from La Rochelle to Charleville-Mézières, except for Paris. Religious sociology indicates five areas where religious practice remained significant in 19th Century France, but two of them are on the romantic and free trade side.

The episode of the bipartisan system being introduced in the United States in the 1820s is one described by Tocqueville as “decentralizing passions”. The two new parties, Democrat and Republican, were engaged in protectionist bidding, which had shaken the Union because of the secession of an exporting region. Locke and Montesquieu’s concern was escape from situations of civil war, but both France and the United States failed to achieve this goal of internal stability in the 19th Century.

The contemporary situation in the United States under Trump’s administration is one of federally driven protectionism. The trade policy is federalized for the countries of the European Union, as well as for the 49 other Customs Unions existing in the world today. The question of protectionism today is based on territorial units that are larger than they were in the 19th Century.

6.3.1. France


Figure 6.2. The protectionist vote in 1851 (departments with a majority of protectionist elected representatives). Source: Le Moniteur universel, 1851 [TOD 09]. For a color version of this figure, see www.iste.co.uk/alaktif/climate.zip

In the 19th Century, France experienced a bipolarization in a multi-party system, with repeated failures to create major parties, whether conservative or progressive. Electoral sociology (in 1851, see Figure 6.2) contrasted regions favorable to free trade, such as large cities, mountainous areas and almost all wine-growing regions, except the Nantes and Champagne regions, with plains. Protectionism federated the agro-industrial regions, with beet sugar and textiles as growth sectors. Dombasle, the protectionist leader, marketed an all-metal plough, adapted rather for small farms with field crops on the plains. The coastlines were: the Mediterranean was on the side of free trade, the Channel coast protectionist, and only Bordeaux was in favor of free trade on the Atlantic coast. The mountain regions were experiencing high emigration and lived on the income of the diaspora, for example, from department stores and spinning mills run by people from the Southern Alps in Mexico. Precision and luxury industries were on the side of free trade. The French regions of the North West closest to England voted on the protectionist side.

The electoral sociology of protectionism in the United States was that of the opposition between the Rust Belt of traditional industrial regions that were favorable to protectionism and the Book (the Bible Belt of agricultural regions with assiduous religious practices). These symbols could still be applied in France, with a few nuances. The pro-industrial discourse was on the side of free trade in France; the advocates of protectionism showed their willingness to maintain an agricultural orientation to France. The most religious regions were shared, with regions where Protestant worship was important and which were in favor of free trade. Personalities promoting a religious revival were on the romantic side, while a civil servant and concordant religion were on the side of protectionism. The Romantics combined an aspiration for religious modernization either internal to Roman Catholicism, Ultramontanism led by La Mennais and Lacordaire, or in a new religion such as Saint-Simonism. It was the latter who finally obtained the signing of the trade treaty with England under Napoleon III, with Michel Chevalier.

The arguments put forward by the protectionists were drawn from the mercantilist and even bullionist literature. “The balance of trade is the best economic institution”, according to Royalist customs official Ferrier (quoted by Todd [TOD 09]). In 1820, France produced about half of the world’s wine. Customs legislation was strengthened with the Restoration, so much so that exports fell in volume. The customs building in Bordeaux was stormed during the Revolution of 1830. Lamennais demanded the “disappearance of obstacles and the free trade of their productions in the name of the holy unity of the human race” (cited by Todd [TOD 09]. Here was one of the first occurrences of the term “free trade” in the French language. The Lamennaisian current federated a part of the Catholic clergy on an ultra-Montane line. While Concordat subordinated it to civil power, the ultramontane people demanded a separation between political and religious power so that the Catholic clergy would depend only on Rome. This Catholicism, which was led by Frederick Bastiat, was, however, quickly deprived of Rome’s support after the July Revolution. The motive put forward by the Catholic hierarchy was the fear of a European federative movement, promoted by the great voices of Romanticism such as Victor Hugo. For France, Saint-Simonianism carried the trade agreements, and of the two newspapers of the July Revolution, L’Avenir, Lamennasian, and the Globe, Saint-Simonian, the strategy external to the Roman Church of the latter proved to be wiser than that relying on a renewal of the Catholic Church.

A nationalist and Anglophobic discourse was mobilized by protectionists to counter the coalition of the many wine-producing regions in favor of free trade. Dombasle feared the development of cities, and Thiers had indeed led several interventions of troops against Lyon and Paris. As economists support modernizing currents, Thiers condemned any theorized approach. List was a correspondent for a German newspaper in Paris and had followed General Jackson to the United States. His book on economic nationalism was the result of this dual experience.

The parliamentary protectionism of the 19th Century in France is emblematic of Jules Méline, a moderate republican who was the Minister of Agriculture several times at the end of that century and at the beginning of the 20th Century. The protective tariff that bears his name corresponded to an era of similarly high tariffs in the United States. Opposite to the revision of the Dreyfus trial, it embodied the impossibility in France of an intermediate temperate protectionism in the line of the fiscal protectionism of the European 18th Century. Protectionism in continental Europe demonstrated solidarity with anti-Semitic nationalism. Fiscal or budgetary protectionism has marked the history of trade policy in the United States and the United Kingdom, while this Montesquieuian legacy is missing in the references of 19th Century political doctrines in France. In the political life of the Third Republic, the reference to positivism was very widely shared, but it was that of the rejection of the “metaphysical” age of the 18th Century. The Concordat in France accentuated a polarization between an exacerbated nationalism and an intellectual left, that of Lamartine, Victor Hugo and later Zola.

6.3.2. The United States

The United States’ trade policy had mainly internal determinations in the 19th Century, and then external determinations appeared as soon as specific agreements were made between allies during the 1914–1918 war. The maximum values in the time series of customs tax rates corresponded to successive Democratic and Republican majorities. The Tariff of Abominations of 1828 dates back to the installation of the two-party system, at the time of General Jackson (Democrat). The rise in rates that took place with the Civil War took place under a Republican presidency, that of Lincoln. The 1890 McKinley tariff, the equivalent of the Meline tariff, was voted by a Republican West. The Hawley-Smoot tariff, which propagated a protectionist reaction to the 1929 crisis, took place under Republican presidency. Prior to 1967, the advocates of trade policy liberalization were the Democrats and then the Republicans (see Figure 6.4).


Figure 6.3. U.S. Import Tariff Policy (1776–2015). Source: [IRW 17]. For a color version of this figure, see www.iste.co.uk/alaktif/climate.zip

The roots of the two major parties vary over time, and reversals in their attitude towards trade policy depend on their electorate, which may be either Rust Belt (the old industrial regions) or Bible Belt (regions of export-oriented agriculture, often poorer and with more assiduous religious practice). The West was in the position of arbitrator: the McKinley and Hawley-Smoot tariffs and, on the other hand, the NAFTA free trade treaty between Mexico, Canada and the United States were approved thanks to a strong commitment from the American West. Lincoln had a Republican electorate in the North. Since the 1970s, Democrats have had an electorate in the North, while Republicans are supported by the Bible Belt.

For North America, prior to 1776, the colony situation penalized agricultural exports, while it imported manufactured goods. Freedom of trade was a claim of independence. American protectionism has a federal origin: the central government has very few resources of its own, which encourages it to raise customs taxes. The first protectionism was therefore fiscal and budgetary in nature. General Jackson’s public budget was balanced. He pursued a policy of territorial expansion to the detriment of the Amerindians, who were being expelled from the land and deported in the West. The tariff continued to rise until a crisis caused by the secession of a state of the Union, South Carolina. A compromise was reached in 1833. Henry Clay engaged in economic nationalism that increased tensions between southern and northern states. The North was protected by the customs tariff, while the South was taxed. Democrat Pierce practiced a tariff of fiscal protectionism that eased tensions in 1854. The crisis that led to the Civil War came with the election of Lincoln, a Republican and supporter of industrial protectionism in favor of the North. The Civil War brought about a tariff increase. Republican protectionism in the post-Civil War period instrumentalized economic nationalism through trade agreements, the principle of which was established by James Blaine in 1881. These bilateral agreements opened up markets for US manufactured goods in return for reduced tariffs on tropical agricultural products.


Figure 6.4. The Republican and Democratic vote on trade policy between 1890 and 2015 in the United States. Source: [IRW 17]. For a color version of this figure, see www.iste.co.uk/alaktif/climate.zip

In the aftermath of World War I, a new outbreak of protectionism occurred. Weather conditions were unfavorable in the American West, subject to strong wind erosion and drought. The Republican Party was opposed to direct measures to help farmers and had assigned two western elected officials, Hawley of Oregon and Smoot of Mormon Utah, to carry out the tariff. The United States imported very little in the 1920s and had a large trade surplus, so protectionist measures were justified only on a partisan basis: on the one hand, it hurt the exporting states that voted mainly Democrats, and, on the other hand, it was to appease a sling of farmers that could lead to the creation of a dissident agrarian party of Republicans. The crisis of 1929 took place when the procedure for revising the tariff was at the end of its course in the Senate. While the Hawley-Smoot tariff originated from internal Republican Party considerations, it caused the collapse of world trade through the contagion effect of protectionist measures. Roosevelt’s RTAA (Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act) in 1934 marked the end of this episode of protectionist outburst in the United States by strengthening the President’s power in trade policy [IRW 11] [IRW 17].

6.4. Interfaith dialogue and fundamentalism

The contradictory terms “interfaith dialogue and fundamentalism” were introduced around 1910 in the context of the Protestant churches. This terminology has a wider use today, and a question that goes back to this initial Christian framework and to Max Weber concerns the outline of these denominations, as well as the economic policies that can be associated with them [WEB 03] [KUR 96].

Weber introduced a criterion, that of the potential existence of a reconciliation procedure, to distinguish between sects and churches. According to Max Weber, a sect is “a community of believing and regenerated persons”, while a Church is “an institution that brings together just and unjust” ([WEB 03], p. 183). For him, the archetype of the sect came from Menno Simons’ work Fondamentboek of 1539, i.e. he defined fundamentalism on the basis of sectarian behavior. “The early Anabaptist communities had a world avoidance associated with a strict bibliocracy” (ibid., p. 185). The sect “formed of those who had been personally awakened and called by God” must avoid all contact with an excommunicated person and reject all divinization of man, as it debases the veneration due to God alone (ibid., pp. 184–185). The sectarian community is made up of Pure Ones, without envisaging a procedure of redemption for those who have gone astray.

What Weber presented as a secondary characteristic, what he called “bibliocracy”, is today taken as the definition of fundamentalism, i.e. the fact of claiming to follow to the letter a depository Book of absolute authority. It is therefore a certain type of relationship with the truth, contained only in a revelation.

However, fundamentalism does not have a monopoly on sectarian behavior, the bipartisan system being one example among others. It refers to a relatively recent “idealized origin of the group”, as well as to a close end of the world: this double shortening of Time distinguishes it from traditionalism, which seeks to integrate itself into a slow change that should not be accelerated and from the simply apocalyptic or millenarianist currents, which only censor future Time. “The notion of fundamentalism” represents a relevant group regarding the religious sciences, through “the hyper-sacralization of the foundation of their tradition which provides these currents with the ideological support of their radical intolerance” ([HUS 17], p. 364).

6.4.1. Traditionalism, fundamentalism and trade policy

Traditionalism is opposed to modernity. It is, for example, the position of the papacy between Gregory XVI and Pius X summarized in the 1864 Syllabus which states that the proposition “The Roman Pontiff can and must compromise with progress, liberalism and modern civilization” is a mistake. The consequence for the trade policies of European Catholic countries was to strengthen the formation of economic nationalisms on the continent. Traditionalism remained outside the Lamennaisian project by countering the programs of European federalism from their first formulation during the Romantic Age. The Roman Papacy, faced with the awakening of the European peoples and the industrial revolution, preferred privileged relations with established powers, ensuring, for example, the financing of Catholic worship in France, rather than being part of a movement in favor of Free Trade, which would have been wrong to make room for European Christian religious currents that had broken their ties with Rome.

In the Encyclical Immortalis Dei of 1885, a formula close to Montesquieu’s alternative was used: it was the external conditions that place Catholicism in a situation of state religion or religious diversity. Thus, there was an effort to adapt traditionalism to the existing structure of religions in the territory, but not for “progress, liberalism and modern civilization”. The tradition was based on sources complementary to the Book. It evolved guided by a hierarchy, which transmitted a pontifical infallibility proclaimed in 1870. Freedom of research for theologians was severely restricted, especially in view of the fear of convergent views that might arise, for example, between Protestant and Catholic scholars working on the same issue. This fear was expressed when Pius X condemned modernism in 1908. Traditionalism seeks to safeguard a doctrinal specificity and to preserve ancient rituals.

In the list of major cultural transformations retained by Jaspers-Lambert’s nomenclature, the debate of tradition versus modernity took place during the Industrial Revolution. Even for Lucien Febvre in the 20th Century, the only major cultural transformation remained that of the transition to agriculture [FEB 22]. Tradition was slowly recording major cultural changes.

Fundamentalism is opposed to this slowing down of historical transformations. The world is fragmented into religious regions with fundamentalisms that provide an economic agenda for each area. This religious regionalism does not necessarily cut across economically integrated regions. Fundamentalist doctrines have a strong insular character, often in areas controlled by paramilitary groups. Fundamentalisms concern religions that have a normative scriptural basis without local syncretism [KUR 96]. This differentiates them from political religions, which developed new rituals of great martial ceremonies (fascism, communism, Nazism), or economic nationalisms that adapted a religion sufficiently plastic to the needs of a Prince. This also distinguishes them from the local variations in worship practices that characterize most of the world’s religions. Kuran’s study focuses on fundamentalist groups of four religions, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. He notes a near absence of an ascetic element. These fundamentalist currents appear relatively unpuritanical, whereas Max Weber had rightly explained that the puritanical ethic was central to economic nationalism. This presence of the ascetic is confirmed from Montchrestien to Smoot. Fundamentalisms come together in an aspiration for an intensely moralist religious government. They evoke a principle of religious and distributive justice and reject an individualistic ethic in favor of a communitarian ethic [KUR 96]. Trade relations are under religious control, but they can exist, while political religions have often advocated autarky.

Fundamentalism is implicitly formulated from an open regionalism. The election of Donald Trump in the United States recently took up the slogan of isolationism, “America first”, which had already been used in the times of Monroe and Jackson in the 1820s and Smoot in the 1920s. Monroe’s period was one of justifications of protectionism by the nascent industry argument that would be popularized by List. The isolationism of the 1920s undermined the League of Nations and contributed to a further global recession, with a sharp reduction in transatlantic flows of people and goods. Monroe’s isolationism was that of domestic competition between the two protectionisms, fiscal and industrial, which ended with the victory of industrial protectionism in the Civil War. The isolationism of the 1920s greatly reduced the possibilities of preventing major conflicts and economic crises. The current state of trade policies is ordered by the limitation imposed on the multilateralism of the World Trade Organization by obstructions from either the Congress or the President of the United States.

The shift from an opposition between tradition and modernity to an opposition between fundamentalism and interfaith dialogue is undoubtedly recent. For the Catholic religion, an encyclical transforming part of the doctrinal aspect of the papal bulls dates from 2015 [ENG 15]. It was hand-delivered to Donald Trump by the Sovereign Pontiff. It was a contemporary scene, with two characters emblematic of protectionism and religion. Papal bulls were based on a legal theory of res nullius for the environment. The princes agreed on a rule for sharing the benefits from natural areas. The encyclical of 2015 abolished this legal basis for the papal bulls, all people becoming guardians of the environment.

6.4.2. The bridge or the wall

The walls desired by Donald Trump concern Catholics in Central and Latin America with the one along the Mexican border and Muslims with the Muslim ban that has prohibited entry into the United States to nationals of seven Muslim countries. “Donald Trump was clearly in line with Samuel Huntington’s vision of the clash of civilizations”, Branaa concluded in a first overview on the public policy orientations of the new American administration ([BRA 17], p. 181). This contradicts the commitment made at Trump’s pontifical interview in Rome, where an agreement on religious freedom had been served. Several files support Branaa’s conclusion: Trump’s demand for the lifting of sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which was supported by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, the war waged by Saudi Arabia against a religious minority in Yemen and the confessionalization of the Israeli Constitution.

“The creatures of this world cannot be regarded as property without an owner” ([PAP 15], p. 74), i.e. the legal basis of the papal bulls is challenged. “The environment is a collective good, the heritage of all humanity, under the responsibility of all. He who appropriates something, it is only to administer it for the good of all” (ibid., p. 79). The world is “unique”, in a “common project”. Governance is multilateral, through “international institutions” (ibid., p. 139). It takes “consensual paths to avoid local disasters that would eventually affect everyone”, applying a precautionary principle (ibid., pp. 138–147). The economy must “foster productive diversity and entrepreneurial creativity” (ibid., p. 103), in a culture of environmental protection. “The majority of the world’s inhabitants declare themselves to be believers, and this should encourage religions to enter into dialogue with a view to safeguarding nature, defending the poor, and building networks of respect and fraternity” (ibid., pp. 15–158). All of these points are at odds with Donald Trump’s positions. We propose to speak of an interfaith dialogue for this discourse on the inhabited earth, the primary meaning in Greek of the term “ecumenism”, which is taken up in the title “on the safeguarding of the common house” of the cited encyclical letter.

The assessment of the trade, foreign and religious policies of the Donald Trump administration can be placed in a broad historical perspective, starting with Irwin’s overview on the history of US trade policies up to 2015 [IRW 17]. Trump claims to be protectionist like Jackson, but nevertheless presents a protectionism of the economic nationalism-type supplemented by borrowing from another type of it, that of a demand for reciprocity in bilateral agreements. This is also the kind of disjuncture between the trade policy orientations of the US Presidency and that of Congress. For religious and trade policies, the opposition of the Bridge and the Wall seems relevant: interfaith dialogue seeks to build bridges between different cultures and scientific approaches; the opposite option is that of building walls. One of the consequences of interfaith dialogue as expressed in the encyclical of 2015 is agro-environmental policies, the very policies that the Republican Party refused to take in response to drought and wind erosion in the American West in the 1920s, and which lit the fuse for the global protectionist outbreak of the inter-war years.

6.4.3. Discussion

Protectionism encompasses a set of conceptions that can be expressed in the form of republican rites in a different vein from that of totalitarian countries, for instance, the expression “political religion” used by the politician Emilio Gentile to characterize the situation of religious policies in the fascist period of Italy [GEN 05]. A similar situation is that of Japanese militarism at the same time. A program of colonial expansion was being carried out through a deliberate policy of using violence. Japanese militarism instrumentalized religion and formed a “political religion”, reflected in the etymology of the term “kamikaze”. Kamikazes refer to a power of nature, the West Wind, the Shinto religion having been enlisted by the military. The party instigating unbridled violence sought guarantees of respectability, as well as of the sanctity of its acts, and this war situation also annexed trade policy to this use of force. The condemnation of the French anti-Semitic group l’Action Française in 1926 was situated in Pius XI’s perception of this risk of instrumentalization, with the arrival of Mussolini to power and of Maurras to the internal heart of the Catholic Church. Opposition to these authoritarian regimes, such as the example of Solidarnosc in Poland, is an example of a conflict between the “political religion” of the dictatorship then in power and the political spirituality* (terminology introduced by Michel Foucault) that the protest movement carries.

Contemporary protectionism refers to a context marked by the affirmation of religious fundamentalisms. This literal interpretation of religious texts also induces a specific form of public policy. Religious fundamentalisms express themselves on the theme of economic policies through a contradictory assembly of libertarian and theocratic aspirations. They discredit federal powers, playing a game of crumbling political institutions. They can return to the mercantilism of their origins, where the same people are at the same time merchants, politicians and even religious.

  1. 1 Henry IV of France’s famous boiled chicken with vegetables. A symbol of the prosperity encountered in the initial years of the 17th Century.
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