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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from pages 159-160 of George Will’s 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility: Modernity’s gift has been the ability and determination to sharply delineate private and public spheres, with the private being the zone of individual sovereignty. It is the realm of the household, the family, and the work that sustains both. This is the basis of the proposition that the Constitution of the first consciously modern nation, the United States, protects the sovereignty of private individuals, not the sovereignty of a public collective, “the majority.” DBx: This distinction between society and state is essential to freedom, to prosperity, and to what we today consider to be civilization. The former – society – is the complex order that emerges unplanned (“spontaneously”) from the

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… is from pages 159-160 of George Will’s 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility:

Quotation of the Day…Modernity’s gift has been the ability and determination to sharply delineate private and public spheres, with the private being the zone of individual sovereignty. It is the realm of the household, the family, and the work that sustains both. This is the basis of the proposition that the Constitution of the first consciously modern nation, the United States, protects the sovereignty of private individuals, not the sovereignty of a public collective, “the majority.”

DBx: This distinction between society and state is essential to freedom, to prosperity, and to what we today consider to be civilization.

The former – society – is the complex order that emerges unplanned (“spontaneously”) from the expectations and countless, multifaceted acts of individuals. The latter – the state – even at its best is force consciously deployed in attempts to achieve certain ends that, depending on the structure of the decision-making apparatuses that invest authority in those individuals who at any moment actually wield power, hopefully reflect some reasonable consensus among members of the polity.

Progressives are all pre-modern, for they do not understand the reality (or the full extent) of emergent social orders. Their policy proposals all reflect their fallacious belief either that there is no emergent social order, or that any emergent social order that might exist is typically so ‘imperfect’ that this order must – and is always so simple that this order can – be improved by the conscious application of force by the state. (Progressives always envision state officials eagerly, faithfully, and expertly following the advice offered by Progressives.)

Most adherents to this mythology adhere to it sincerely. They really believe that society is the product of the state. Liberalism – classical liberalism – is the great antidote to this mythology.

This Progressive mythology is very convenient for those many persons who, drenched with arrogance or venality or both, itch to order their fellow human beings about.

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Don Boudreaux
He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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