Bruno Leoni Annual Gala Dinner
Istituto Bruno Leoni celebrated its annual gala dinner earlier this November. These are challenging times for free-market ideas. However, taking a long-term view, the prospects for free-market ideas look more auspicious, as the work of Professor Deirdre McCloskey, who was celebrated by IBL on this occasion, demonstrates.
In her trilogy ‘The Bourgeois Era’ Professor McCloskey clarifies the causes of a veritable “miracle” that first occurred in Europe some two centuries ago: the beginning of an unprecedented increase in wealth, to the benefit of all. Professor McCloskey repeatedly stresses that it was not the accumulation of wealth or capital, nor the amazing flow of inventions, which on their own unchained humankind and made their lives more dignified and more comfortable. Rather, it was a new respect and appreciation shown by people and institutions from the beginning of the 17th century towards values characteristic of the bourgeoisie, such as hard work, thrift and creativity.
The message of Professor McCloskey, recipient of the 2016 IBL Award, is fundamentally an optimistic one. It is a message of confidence in human talent, the ethics of free exchange in its etymological meaning, and the power of ideas. It is a reassuring message at a time when the ‘bourgeois’ virtues are under attack. Professor McCloskey offers hope and guidance for all who believe in human progress and a future that enables individuals to fulfil their highest potential.
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