from Cafe Hayek Quote of the Day Don Boudreaux comments on his excerpt from the excellent book Illiberal Reformers by Thomas Leonard
Isn’t it, therefore, strange that those politicians, pundits, professors, and preachers who today wish to turn more power over to state administrators (and, hence, to reduce the range of market activities) call themselves – and are called by others – “Progressives”? These champions of administration – these ‘men of system’ – are not progressive; they are regressive. They are atavistic. They peddle millennia-old superstitions; they work with outdated concepts; they possess an antediluvian faith in strong ‘leaders’; they have never learned the modern lesson of spontaneous order; they are haunted by archaic fears of people who are free to pursue their own ends, in their own manner, without supervision by overlords.
The modern world in which dignity for the first time began to be spread to ordinary people arose only a couple or three centuries ago. The modern economy in which material and cultural riches for the first time began not only to increase steadily but also to be shared by ordinary people arose only a couple or three centuries ago. True progress occurred not through a doubling-down on diktats from lords and ‘leaders’ and weapons-wielding commandants but from freeing ordinary individuals to choose and act as each chooses to act within an institutional framework of private property and contract law, and in a cultural setting in which shopkeepers, bankers, and factory owners are accorded at least as much respect as are generals, mandarins, and priests. In other words, true progress occurred only when and only where the policies and procedures demanded by “Progressives” were rejected in favor of free minds and free markets.