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Economics as the Study of Peaceful Human Cooperation and Progress

Summary:
I was recently the recipient of the Prometheus Award for the Promotion of Economic Liberty by the Greek liberal think tank KEFiM. My keynote acceptance speech is now available here. It is very much in the BHL spirit. I hope you enjoy it. Here’s an excerpt. “The reality of the last two centuries is that we have beaten our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks as we’ve learned that the liberal institutions of property, contract, and voluntary exchange are superior to violence and war. An ever increasing share of humanity lives under its own increasingly fertile vines and fig trees. We’ve learned that the positive-sum game of the liberal order is better at producing the world of Micah’s vision than the zero- and negative-sum games of plunder, whether

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I was recently the recipient of the Prometheus Award for the Promotion of Economic Liberty by the Greek liberal think tank KEFiM. My keynote acceptance speech is now available here. It is very much in the BHL spirit. I hope you enjoy it. Here’s an excerpt.

“The reality of the last two centuries is that we have beaten our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks as we’ve learned that the liberal institutions of property, contract, and voluntary exchange are superior to violence and war. An ever increasing share of humanity lives under its own increasingly fertile vines and fig trees. We’ve learned that the positive-sum game of the liberal order is better at producing the world of Micah’s vision than the zero- and negative-sum games of plunder, whether feudal or socialist. Or nationalist. An increased understanding of economics helped make this happen and has sustained it in the face of enemies, old and new.

Unfortunately, we are at a dangerous point of losing this learning these days thanks to the revival of the forces of nationalism and socialism. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I do think that liberals need to engage in some self-reflection about whether our own rhetoric and way of talking about economics and liberalism don’t bear some responsibility for our dilemma. How often do we speak of markets as sources of not just prosperity, but prosperity for the least well off? How often do we speak of markets as the cause of peace and social cooperation and mutual interdependence? How often to we talk about how markets have humanized us and reduced our propensity to violence, and turned strangers into honorary friends or kin? It’s important to stress the material wealth that markets produce, but the point of even that is enabling us to live lives of peace, cooperation, and security.”

Steve Horwitz
Steven "Steve" Horwitz (born 7 February 1964) is an American economist of the Austrian School. Horwitz was born in Detroit, Michigan to Ronald and Carol Horwitz. He was raised in Oak Park, Michigan and graduated from Berkley High School in Berkley, Michigan in 1981. He graduated cum laude with an A.B. in Economics and Philosophy from the University of Michigan in 1985, where he was also active with several libertarian student groups and where he wrote and performed with the Sunday Funnies/Comedy Company sketch comedy group.

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