Historians of Customs Unions and Integration Projects

  • Fritz Machlup


Perhaps I should justify my including historians in a history of thought on the subjects on which they report. Historians select the events and circumstances which they research according to the importance they attach to them; and these implicit valuations of relative importance are necessarily based on some general thoughts and insights. If historians report, for example, on Colbert’s efforts to remove interprovincial trade barriers in France, they evidently imply that such a policy has had some significance for the economic and political development of France and that Colbert may have been aware of that significance, although perhaps — as some have actually tried to show — for reasons not tenable on the ground of present economic theory. If historians report on the free-trade and protectionist debates among the American colonies before the Confederation, on the development of the British system of Imperial Preference, on the creation of the European Economic Community or the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, they cannot help having some point of view — sometimes perhaps a little vague or even naive, but sometimes very clear and explicitly stated — from which they judge the course of events. The views of historians, or their concealed value judgements, may be as important for a history of thought on economic integration as the views of ‘pure’ economic theorists. Representatives of the historical school of economics may attach even more importance to the historians’ accounts than to the theorists’ speculations.


International Monetary Fund Economic Integration Integration Project Custom Union European Economic Community 
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Copyright information

© Fritz Machlup 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fritz Machlup
    • 1
  1. 1.New York UniversityUSA

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