Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Great Enrichment..................

Then after 1798 - as economic historians have discovered over the past few decades - life in quite a few places got better.  Slowly, and then quickly, and by now with unstoppable, ramifying, worldwide force, it got much better.  Material life got better not merely for Europeans or imperial powers or Mr. Moneybags, but for ordinary people from Brooklyn to Beijing.
        The betterment stands out in human history as the Great Enrichment, the most important secular event since we first domesticated squash and chickens and wheat and horses.  The Enrichment has been and will continue to be more important historically that the rise and fall of empires or the class struggle in all hitherto existing societies.   Such perennial fascinations of historians, entranced by the realpolitik that accompanies empires rising and classes struggling, had little to do with our enrichment.  Empire did not enrich Britain.  America's success did not depend on slavery.  Power did not lead to plenty, and exploitation was not plenty's engine.
         The real engine was the expanding ideology of liberty and dignity that inspired the proliferating schemes of betterment by and for the common people.

-Diedre Nansen McCloskey,  Bourgeois Equality:  How Ideas, Not Capital Or Institutions, Enriched The World

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