She’s close. McCloskey’s close.
It’s actually, that MORAL ARGUMENTS by public intellectuals, changed the in-group instinctual bias AGAINST competition, from an immoral and unethical practice to a moral and ethical virtue because it became clear that despite our instincts, and despite the immorality of competition, it produces a virtuous cycle. THis change in moral codes, despite being contradictory to our instincts, succeeded. For that bias tot work however, requires the nuclear family and the individual to form the productive social unit, rather than the family, extended family, village or tribe.
Cities, where people could go to seek opportunities, generated wealth from trade, and the movement of people from the moral structure of the farm, to the new moral structure of the city, allowed increasing numbers of people exit the moral constraints of the extended family, village and tribe and participate as individual economic units in the cities.
The reason that this new morality became accepted varied from country to country. But in large part it was made possible by the growing middle class, and a change in policy. In Europe this policy was demonstrated by Ricardo and Smith, and less directly by Hume. The colonies, which were entirely mercantile and lacking nobility, provided a vehicle for creating new forms of ‘nobility’ and therefore purely meritocratic status signals.
Governments, eager to increase tax revenue, altered legislation and policy to support this trend (some of it bad, like breaking the common law’s prohibition on pollution). The middle class, who had adopted this new counter-intuitive moral code, slowly accumulated enough political power economically and therefore politically displace the landed aristocracy. In the case of the USA, there never was such an aristocracy and church – at least not one that survived the revolution. In england it merely meant expansion of power of the house of commons. In France it meant the murder of the entire aristocratic class, and the end of french contribution to civilization. In germany it produced. first a reaction to its conquest by napoleon. and second, a reactionary movement, as a defense against future napoleon’s by uniting the german people. Germany found cultural balance in unity where france had failed and unleashed the terrors and where england had bent itself into even more rigid classes to accommodate that rise.
This process, (as I argue in my upcoming book), allowed us to force all involuntary transfers in society INTO THE MARKET FOR COMPETITION and out law all other forms of involuntary transfer. THis arrangement was generally limited to the family. But since the family was reduced to the NUCLEAR family in europe, this by definition meant that pretty much all of society except for children was bound by the prohibition against all involuntary transfers except by competition in he market.
This is the singular most important advancement in human moral systems since the Silver and Golden Rules were articulated: Do nothing to others you would not want done to you, and if possible, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
[pullquote]There is no name for the moral principle of forcing all involuntary transfers into the market for competition.[/pullquote] We could argue that it is the copper or platinum rule. But that would be trite. And I have no particular instinct for naming it other than, the rule of the moral exclusivity of competition.
Anyway. That’s one part of what I’m working on.
“According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. The wealth of nations, then, didn’t grow so dramatically because of economic factors: it grew because rhetoric about markets and free enterprise finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity.”