Progressive Superstition

by Don Boudreaux on November 23, 2007

in Everyday Life, History, Myths and Fallacies, Standard of Living

Here’s a letter that I sent today to the Gray Lady:

Opposed to globalization, Jeff Milchen asserts that “The only truly sustainable path for business in the 21st century is localization” (Letters, November 23).  Mr. Milchen should learn some history.  He can begin with Fernand Braudel’s 1981 book The Structures of Everyday Life, which details the living standards of ordinary Europeans during the late middle ages.  This era was emphatically one of localization: people consumed only locally grown foods and locally made clothing.  All building materials were local.   There were no highways, railways, or CO2-emitting engines to pollute the local atmosphere with greenhouse gases or with foreign goods and foreign ideas.

But paradise had its price.  Starvation was common, as was death by plague.  Giving birth was more dangerous for women than a game of Russian Roulette. People lived in tiny one room dirt-floor huts without indoor plumbing.  During the winter, some of the farm animals (all local!) shared these accommodations.

What little “business” there was during the long era of localization – subsistence farming – might have been sustainable, but human dignity and human life certainly were not.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

I googled “Jeff Milchen” and, not surprisingly, found that he frequently is identified with so-called “Progressives.”  Ironic, isn’t it, that “Progressives” advocate a return to the economic arrangements of the dark- and middle-ages?

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