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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 26 of Russell Shorto’s excellent 2004 bestseller about the early history of Manhattan, The Island at the Center of the World (original emphasis):

The Dutch – traders and sailors, whose focus was always out there: on other lands, other peoples, and their products – had always to put up with differences. Just as foreign goods moved in and out of their ports, foreign ideas, and for that matter, foreign people, did as well. To talk about “celebrating diversity” is to be wildly anachronistic, but in the Europe of the time the Dutch stood out for their relative acceptance of foreignness, of religious differences, of odd sorts.

DBx: Commerce civilizes. Commerce peacefully fashions people who are party to it – however many and diverse these people might be – into one society. In commercial society, everyone contributes through his or her productive efforts to the well-being of countless strangers within that society, and he or she depends for his or her existence and flourishing upon the efforts of those same countless strangers.

Commerce puts heavy prices on irrational prejudices, on bigotry, on intolerance. Commerce tamps such incivility down.

Commerce is voluntary – and, thus, mutually beneficial.

But, but …. many people either despise commerce or hold it in contempt. Progressives (misnamed bunch that they are) are deeply skeptical of commerce and downright infatuated with coercion. So, too, of course are national conservatives. Progressives and NatCons both regard those who advocate free markets as retrograde or unrealistic, and in either case as a witting or unwitting apologist for the rich and powerful against the poor and powerless.

Neither progressives nor NatCons understand commerce. They are ignorant of the single greatest force for civilization.

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