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The post title is a teaser for a longer one I will write up in the spring. The sentiment in the title has been shared with me several times in the past few years. What usually follows is an articulation that sure, those ideas were great for Madison and Washington, but the world is a different place today, in need of fresh, new ideas (read: justifying more coercion).

I mentioned this to a friend of mine who send me back a terrific rejoinder: “Do we think Paul Krugman et al are providing new ideas with the multiplier?” Of course, the implicit idea that classical liberalism is “fighting” against is a lot older than that. The tyranny of the elite, the grip of tradition, the support of coercion, the exercise of special privilege, and the fallacy of planning have been around for about 10,000 years – that’s just a wee bit earlier than the Enlightenment.

4 Responses to “Classical Liberalism is an Old Idea”

  1. Michael says:

    Wasn’t the whole point of Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations was taking on the merchantalists? Maybe I missed the point, but what the government is doing today isn’t much different.

  2. mark says:

    gravity and evolution are old, stupid ideas too

  3. JR says:

    Last time I checked economics is a science. What science hasn’t changed in the last 200 years? Hell, what science doesn’t change every 10 years? Oh that is right, the theory of gravity and evolution are the exact same conceptions from when they were first introduced. Spare me. Sure, Newton’s idea of gravity is plenty any individual would need to understand 99% of the gravitational phenomena encountered on Earth. Guess we shouldn’t bother with anything more? It’s all so simple. That four dimensional spacetime crap is way too messy and complicated. Smith and Hume was all we needed to lead us into the IR. Why bother with anything else? Let’s just sit on their laurels for the rest of time.

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