… is from page 136 of John Bell Condliffe’s article in the May 1938 issue of Economica, “The Value of International Trade “:
The whole development of modern social life enabling the mass of humanity to emerge from the status of serfs, dependent upon the humours of small privileged minorities and still more upon an unequal contest with nature, has been correlated with the mingling of peoples brought about primarily by trading activity.
(I thank Bill Easterly for the pointer to Condliffe’s work; Condliffe is one of the heroes in Bill’s excellent 2013 book, The Tyranny of Experts .)
Condliffe puts his finger on one of the greatest inequalities that has cursed humans throughout history: our puny powers compared to those of typically hostile ‘mother’ nature – a stingy and heartless shrew spewing deadly bacteria and viruses, and fond of generating droughts, floods, and other natural disasters that made human life short, miserable, and dreary before the industrial age. Innovative modern markets finally made humans more equal to nature.