Deirdre_N._McCloskey_Bourgeois_Dignity_W

Deirdre_N._McCloskey_Bourgeois_Dignity_W - Review of...

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Review of McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity (2010) Winter of 2016 1 Let’s talk about talk ideas, rhetoric and the modern economic growth A review of Deirdre N. McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World”, University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, 2010, xvi + 571 pp. Vladislav Lili ć , Graduate Student at the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Sciences, University of Vienna “This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.” Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy , Allen and Unwin: London, 3 rd edition, 1950, p. 83 (originally 1942). “Innovation caused the Industrial Revolution…and talk, ethics and ideas caused the innovation.” Deirdre N. McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World , University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, 2010, p. 6. Introduction Had Thomas Hobbes witnessed the turn of the nineteenth century, and had he had a chance to discuss the human condition with his namesake Reverend Malthus, he would still have stuck to the “poor”, “nasty” and “short” bits of his 1651 description of man’s existence on earth; in other words, as Deirdre McCloskey, the Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has it in her Bourgeois Dignit y: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World , the average denizen of the planet in 1800, with only 3±2$ 1 of personal income per day, was “desperately poor and narrowly limited in human scope.” 2 1 The existing gaps in real personal income among members of different human societies had never been bigger than five to one before the emergence of “modern economic growth”. Forthcoming in: Peer Vries, “ What we do and do not know about the Great Divergence at the beginning of 2016 ”, Historische Mitteilungen der Ranke - Gesellschaft , p. 17 out of 36 of the unpublished manuscript. 2 Deirdre N. McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity , p. 1.
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Review of McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity (2010) Winter of 2016 2 The two centuries that followed, however, were characterized by an explosive, sustained, and previously un-heard of economic growth, leaving, in 2013, only 12% of the world’s population with an average income of 3$ per day. 3 There is not much agreement on any given issue between economic historians, but the vast majority will probably not dispute that it all came about in Great Britain around 1800 with the Industrial Revolution the key break in world history. Yet, the absolute explanation of what became knownas the Great Divergence( after Kenneth Pomeranz’s seminal work from 2000) 4 - when, how and why did industrialization and the modern economic growth emerge in certain parts of the globe and not in others eludes economic historians. It is the ultimate prize that has inspired generations of scholars to lifetimes of “so far fruitless pursuit”.
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