Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Family’s Role in the Miracle of Western Civilization

From Institute for Family Studies:
The “Miracle” in my telling is a historically unprecedented, sudden, and largely accidental explosion in prosperity and well-being that emerges once and only once in all of human history. Until roughly 300 years ago, the average human being, everywhere on earth, lived on no more than $3 per day. For 250,000 years, poverty, disease, authoritarianism, tribalism, violence, slavery and an early death were the hallmarks of human existence. Then it all began to change—and is still changing—for the better. That is what I mean by the Miracle.

However, to the consternation of some otherwise friendly reviewers on the Right, I do not use the word “Miracle” to suggest divine providence (though I have no objection to those who do credit the Almighty for our good fortune). Part of the aim of my book is to deal with the basic assumptions of secular people for whom the appeal to divine authority is a logical fallacy. Nor is the Miracle synonymous with the Enlightenment. Firstly, because there were many enlightenments and not all of them produced prosperity and liberal democracy. Socialism is every bit as much a product of the French Enlightenment as liberal democratic capitalism is a product of the Scottish and English enlightenments. Nationalism has its roots, at least somewhat, in the German enlightenment. Also, the Miracle is a better term because it allows for the fact that liberal democratic capitalism doesn’t merely rely on abstract ideas, but (disproportionately English) habits, customs, institutions that are vast storehouses of embedded knowledge that contribute not merely to a doctrine of liberty, but a culture of liberty.

Beyond simply being miraculous, I use the term, "the Miracle," to convey the fact that we really don’t have a firm grasp—never mind a consensus—of how we got it. When a great gift is given to you—and all of humanity—and you can’t reliably explain where it came from, the word Miracle seems fairly apt. (Read more.)

No comments: