Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bourgeois Dignity

Brian C. Anderson reviews "the second of six planned volumes on the genesis and development of the modern capitalist world, [in which] Deirdre McCloskey, an economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, argues that most traditional economic models—from expanding trade to capital accumulation—fail or provide at best a partial account of what happened" — The Wealth Explosion.

"What remains standing after these rival theories fall, McCloskey maintains, is a profound shift in ideas: long scorned as vulgar, the merchant and the manufacturer and the inventor began in northwestern Europe two centuries ago to enjoy respect and institutional protection, a new 'dignity and liberty.'"

What could be more offensive to leftist and (European) rightist orthodoxies than the idea of shopkeeper as hero? The fact that the thesis offends so many annoying ninnies commends it.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.