List, Friedrich

List, Friedrich

(frē`drĭkh lĭst), 1789–1846, German economist. The first professor of economics at the Univ. of Tübingen, he was elected (1820) to the Württemberg legislature. For his advocacy of administrative reforms he was sentenced to imprisonment but was released on condition that he would emigrate to the United States. There he engaged in various enterprises, and in 1832 he was returned to Germany as U.S. consul at Leipzig. Insisting upon the necessity for a commercial association of German states and the full development of productive powers in those states, he became a ceaseless advocate of a customs union (ZollvereinZollverein
[Ger.,=customs union], in German history, a customs union established to eliminate tariff barriers. Friedrich List first popularized the idea of a combination to abolish the customs barriers that were inhibiting trade among the numerous states of the German
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). He urged a policy of economic protection for young industries and nations. Many of his influential ideas were subsequently adopted by the U.S. government. List's most important work is The National System of Political Economy (1840, tr. 1904).


See M. Hirst, Life of Friedrich List and Selections from His Writings (1909, repr. 1965).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

List, Friedrich


Born Aug. 6, 1789, in Reutlingen; died Nov. 30, 1846, in Kufstein. German economist, representative of the school of vulgar political economics, and spokesman for the interests of the German industrial bourgeoisie.

In 1817, List became professor of government at the University of Tübingen. He was a founder of a general association of German industrialists and merchants. His basic work is The National System of Political Economy (1841), in which political economy as a science was replaced by what he termed national economy, a system of recommendations on economic policy for the emerging German bourgeoisie. He developed the idea of “protectionism for infant industries,” which required the active intervention of the state in economic life, and attempted to develop a theory of productive forces, considering “educational capital” such as scientific discoveries and advances in craftsmanship to be a basic element in these forces and a major source of a nation’s wealth. List defended the chauvinist idea of German hegemony in Europe. He looked upon war as the “blessing of the nation.” Several of List’s ideas were later employed in Nazi geopolitics.


Marx, K. Teorii pribavochnoi stoimosti (vol. 4 of Das Kapital), part 1, ch. 4.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., vol. 26, part 1.
Smit, M. N. Ocherki istorii burzhuaznoi politicheskoi ekonomii. Moscow, 1961.
Roll, E. A History of Economic Thought. London, 1956.
Roussakis, E. N. Friedrich List, the Zollverein and the Uniting of Europe. Bruges, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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List, Friedrich (1841a, 1885, 1904, 1966 and 1991) Das Nationale System der politischen Oekonomie.
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List, Friedrich. The Natural System of Political Economy.