Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All

Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All

by Deirdre Nansen McCloskey


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An insightful and passionately written book explaining why a return to Enlightenment ideals is good for the world
The greatest challenges facing humankind, according to Deirdre McCloskey, are poverty and tyranny, both of which hold people back. Arguing for a return to true liberal values, this engaging and accessible book develops, defends, and demonstrates how embracing the ideas first espoused by eighteenth-century philosophers like Locke, Smith, Voltaire, and Wollstonecraft is good for everyone.
With her trademark wit and deep understanding, McCloskey shows how the adoption of Enlightenment ideals of liberalism has propelled the freedom and prosperity that define the quality of a full life. In her view, liberalism leads to equality, but equality does not necessarily lead to liberalism. Liberalism is an optimistic philosophy that depends on the power of rhetoric rather than coercion, and on ethics, free speech, and facts in order to thrive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300235081
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 10/15/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 102,909
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey has been distinguished professor of economics and history and professor of English and communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of numerous books, including Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part 1 You Should Become a Humane True Liberal

1 Modern Liberals Recommend Both Golden Rules, That Is, Adam Smith's Equality of Opportunity 3

2 Liberalism Had a Hard Coming 8

3 Modern Liberals Are Not Conservatives, Nor Statists 13

4 Liberals Are Democrats, and Markets Are Democratic 20

5 Liberals Detest Coercion 25

6 Liberalism Had Good Outcomes, 1776 to the Present 29

7 Yet After 1848 Liberalism Was Weakened 34

8 The "New Liberalism" Was Illiberal 41

9 The Result of the New Illiberalism Was Very Big Governments 47

10 Honest and Competent Governments Are Rare 52

11 Deirdre Became a Modern Liberal Slowly, Slowly 60

12 The Arguments Against Becoming a Liberal Are Weak 64

13 We Can and Should Liberalize 70

14 For Example, Stop "Protection" 77

15 And Stop Digging in Statism 83

16 Poverty Out of Tyranny, Not "Capitalist" Inequality, Is the Real Problem 87

17 Humane Liberalism Is Ethical 93

Part 2 Humane Liberalism Enriches People

18 Liberty and Dignity Explain the Modern World 103

19 China Shows What Economic Liberalism Can Do 107

20 Commercially Tested Betterment Saves the Poor 113

21 Producing and Consuming a Lot Is Not by Itself Unethical 119

22 Trickle Up or Trickle Down Is Not How the Economy Works 124

23 The Liberal Idea, in Short, Made the Modern World 130

Part 3 The New Worry About Inequality is Mistaken

24 Forced Equality of Outcome Is Unjust and Inhumane 143

25 Piketty Is Mistaken 151

26 Europe Should Resist Egalitarian Policies 156

27 Piketty Deserves Some Praise 165

28 But Pessimism About Market Societies Is Not Scientifically Justified 169

29 The Rich Do Not in a Liberal Society Get Rich at the Expense of the Rest 177

30 Piketty's Book Has Serious Technical Errors 185

31 The Ethical Accounting of Inequality Is Mistaken 192

32 Inequality Is Not Unethical If It Happens in a Free Society 197

33 Redistribution Doesn't Work 204

Part 4 And the Other Illiberal Ideas are Mistaken, Too

34 The Clerisy Had Three Big Ideas, 1755-1848, One Good and Two Terrible 213

35 The Economic Sky Is Not Falling 216

36 The West Is Not Declining 220

37 Failure Rhetoric Is Dangerous 224

38 The Word "Capitalism" Is a Scientific Mistake 231

39 Marxism Is Not the Way Forward 236

40 Some on the Left Listen 243

41 But They Have Not Noticed the Actual Results of Liberalism 251

42 And Are Unwilling to Imagine Liberal Alternatives 257

43 A Post-Modern Liberal Feminism Is Possible and Desirable 264

44 Imperialism Was Not How the West Was Enriched 272

45 Liberalism Is Good for Queers 277

46 The Minimum Wage Was Designed to Damage Poor People and Women 282

47 Technological Unemployment Is Not Scary 287

48 Youth Unemployment Is Scary, and Comes from Regulation 296

49 Do Worry About the Environment, but Prudently 302

50 Illiberalism, in Short, Is Fact Free, and Mostly Unethical 307

Notes 313

Bibliography 331

Acknowledgments 371

Index 373

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