Thursday, November 27, 2014
Builders And Destroyers
The advent of capitalism in the late eighteenth century launched an era of explosive wealth creation that continues to this day. Prior to this beneficent revolution, life was generally, as described by the seventeenth century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." The Capitalist Miracle was and continues to be responsible for a drastic decline in global poverty, particularly among those peoples who have embraced it as their governing economic principle. That all this is true is completely uncontroversial to any knowledgeable and thoughtful person not invested in corporatism and/or the expansion of the welfare state. Still open to debate, however, is how capitalism got started. Kevin Williamson offers some ideas on this. And he castigates those bent on destroying the glorious free enterprise architecture and replacing it with, what Churchill called, "...a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, (the) inherent virtue (of which) is the equal sharing of misery."
The division of labor is the essence of civilization, the underlying source of practically every good thing about the material conditions of the modern world. It is why civilized countries do not have famine any more, why we are surrounded by technological wonders, why things like air travel and mobile phones go from being restricted to millionaires to being ho-hum over a short course of years. Most of the technological ingredients for the Industrial Revolution had been in place not only in Britain but in Spain, France, Italy, etc., for years. But British subjects and American colonists had the opportunity and the inclination to begin a finer and more robust division of labor than did their European counterparts. They were just a little bit more free — and a little bit more determined to be free — and that little bit made an incalculable difference, not only to them, but to the world.
They built something remarkable. And the idiot children of the Left are today cheering those who would literally burn it down, in Ferguson and elsewhere.
I am generally inclined toward outbreaks of orneriness, whether in Nevada or in Missouri. If the people of Ferguson believe that they are misgoverned, that their police are a problem, that the usual forms of legal and political redress have failed them, then, by all means, shake the foundations. And there may have been about five minutes at the beginning when that’s what this was about. The crowd in Ferguson is now very little more than a lynch mob. Maybe I should be ashamed of it, but there’s a little part of my heart that would leap at the sight of Americans setting fire to a tax office. But setting fire to an Autozone? Pathetic.
There’s a famous meme that made the rounds during Occupy Wall Street, with a hippie-dirtbag protester labeled “Wants More Government” and menacing police in riot gear closing down on him labeled “More Government.” Those of us who want less government do not want only that: We want what flourishes when men are left free to pursue their own ends. The Left, on the other hand, takes every instance of unhappiness as an argument for more government — including bad government. Our founding fathers knew when to build, and when to fight. More importantly, they knew what to build, and what to fight.
Added November 28 -- Rich Lowry with more about our great good fortune.