The Great Enrichment Was Built on Ideas, Not Capital

Deirdre N. McCloskey writes on how much ideas mattered in history of economic development:

The commercial bourgeoisie — the middle class of traders, inventors, and managers, the entrepreneur and the merchant, the inventor of carbon-fiber materials and the contractor remodeling your bathroom, the improver of automobiles in Toyota City and the supplier of spices in New Delhi — is, on the whole, contrary to the conviction of the “clerisy” of artists and intellectuals, pretty good.

Further, the modern world was made not by material causes, such as coal or thrift or capital or exports or exploitation or imperialism or good property rights or even good science, all of which have been widespread in other cultures and other times. It was made by ideas from and about the bourgeoisie — by an explosion after 1800 in technical ideas and a few institutional concepts, backed by a massive ideological shift toward market-tested betterment, on a large scale at first peculiar to northwestern Europe.

 

One Response to “The Great Enrichment Was Built on Ideas, Not Capital”

  1. Oleg Komlik Says:

    Regarding the power of ideas, more generally, John L. Campbell & Ove K. Pedersen’s book “The National Origins of Policy Ideas” presents an interesting and instructive analysis:
    https://economicsociology.org/2014/12/10/in-economic-policymaking-ideas-matter-but-how-and-whose-ideas-campbell-pederse-have-insightful-answers/

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