The Liberal Idea, Not Capital or Exploitation, Enriched the World

Ideas, not capital or slavery or institutions, made the modern world. The mother of all ideas was liberalism, the idea of Voltaire and Smith and Wollstoencraft that best society has no masters, whether a slave owner or a tyrannical taxman. It inspired people in Holland, England, and then the wider world to venture, willing as the British say to "have go." And go they did, achieving since 1800 the startling array of new ways of doing things that raised income per person by 3,000 percent. Liberty can enrich and educate everyone on the planet, and in the next fifty years, if we keep it, it will.

About the speaker

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, an economist, historian and public intellectual, has written 20 books and 400 scholarly pieces on topics ranging from technical economics and statistics to the ethics of the bourgeois virtues. A recent book, "Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World" (University of Chicago Press, 2016), is the third in a trilogy (2006, 2010). It identifies the egalitarian liberalism of Voltaire and Smith and Mill as the cause of the explosion of commercially tested betterment after 1800, and the cultural enrichment of the world. In 2019 Yale University Press published her acclaimed "Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Richer World for All," which applies her scientific findings to politics.

Co-sponsored with the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

Department: 
Center for the Study of Economic Liberty
Contact: 
Mason Hunt, MPA
Feb 05 2020 - 4:30pm
Location: 
Memorial Union 202, Alumni Lounge
Campus: 
Tempe campus
Price: 
Free