Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich: How the Bourgeois Deal Enriched the World
(University of Chicago Press, 2020)
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Why did the world get rich? Was it fossil fuels? Slavery? Perhaps imperialism? Or saving? Education, maybe? Property rights? Or even trade unions? No, say Deirdre McCloskey and Art Carden in Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich: How The Bourgeois Deal Enriched the World. Instead, they suggest the secret sauce was the idea of economic liberty—first in Holland and the Anglosphere, then in Sweden and Japan, then Italy, Israel, China, and India.
This change in attitudes and ideas—the welcoming of people “having a go” while being treated with equal dignity as individuals—not only provided a springboard to a vast in improvement living standards but it ultimately made us better people, too.
Grounded in McCloskey’s vast scholarship on “commercially tested betterment,” this entertaining new book draws on history, economics, literature, philosophy, and popular culture—everything from growth theory to the television show The Simpsons—to show both how we got rich and why most criticisms of the modern era of economic liberalism are misguided.
Join us on book launch day, October 30, for an online book forum, where the authors will present the key insights of their newest work and answer your questions on its implications.
The economist and historian Deirdre Nansen McCloskey has been best known recently for her Bourgeois Era trilogy, a vigorous defense, unrivaled in scope, of commercially tested betterment. Its massive volumes, The Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity, and Bourgeois Equality, solve Adam Smith’s puzzle of the nature and causes of the wealth of nations, and of the moral sentiments of modernity. The world got rich, she argues, not chiefly by material causes but by an idea and a sentiment, a new admiration for the middle class and its egalitarian liberalism.