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The Mainspring of Human Progress

JULY 30, 2009

Filed Under : Liberty

Weaver’s book offers human liberty as the “mainspring of human progress.” The book begins with a series of puzzles about why we are so much better off than our ancestors and then explores why systems lacking liberty haven’t worked. The bulk of the book is an historical look at how the “revolutionary” idea of liberty struggled to dominate and eventually did. Weaver finishes with a discussion of the “fruits of freedom” as seen from the late 1940s.

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Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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