… is from page 91 of Ronald Bailey’s insightful 2015 book, The End of Doom:
The modern combination of liberal trial-and-error institutions – limited democracy, free markets, and liberal science – emerged in Western Europe and North America and have been spreading around the globe. Wherever the institutions of liberalism have been embraced, prosperity has followed in their wake.
Yet the same human imagination that is indispensable to modern prosperity – the imagination that innovates – has (as most things do) a downside. This imagination allows individuals to conjure in their heads beautiful worlds that are far superior to any reality, actual or possible. Unsatisfied with reality even when and where it is off-the-charts superior to any other reality ever experienced by humans, individuals obsessed with their imagined utopias insist that reality is hell that can be transformed into heaven if only enough coercion is used to bring the imagined heaven into earthly existence.
Social engineers – whether they be leftist progressives, rightist “national conservatives,” or something else altogether – are, at the end of the day, mystics. Most of these mystics today speak the language of science; many even use mathematics to describe their utopias; and nearly all are sincere. They are true believers in their mysticisms. But they are all detached from reality. They know too little history. Their thinking is illogical. They believe in miracles. They are mystics peddling the equivalent of poisonous snake oil.
Pictured above is Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. This building – which is now a Radisson hotel – is a monument to what Bailey calls “liberal trial-and-error institutions.”