… is from page 17 of the manuscript of Deirdre McCloskey‘s forthcoming volume, The Treasured Bourgeoisie; quoted with Deirdre’s kind permission:
The [political] right and left unhappiness [with the modern bourgeois economy] can be understood sympathetically as a present-mindedness. It is like standing too close to a pointillist painting, such as Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” in its room in the Art Institute of Chicago. At close range one sees the dots as dots only, and laments the disorder. If one stands back, however, the disorder resolves into a satisfying scene. Likewise, the history seen in longer perspective shows how very much better off people are now than two centuries ago.
Perspective. It’s among the treasures of insights that wise people bring to their analyses and to our discussions. McCloskey brings it here, in the manuscript from which this quotation is drawn. Tyler Cowen brings it here. Johan Norberg brings it here. Matt Ridley brings it here. Adam Smith brought it here (in particular, at the end of paragraph 32). Julian Simon brought it here. Perspective is evidence of maturity, of sound and sober judgment, and of a disposition to avoid indulging in the often emotionally satisfying weakness of hysteria.
Deirdre will discuss her forthcoming book at this Cato Institute event on June 20th.
Oh, and here’s a recent interview of Deirdre.