5 Shocking Dave Brat Quotes the Media Will Never Report

david-brat-victory

 

If Brat wins the general election, he will become one of the few—or perhaps only—sitting members of Congress to raise serious questions about how the modern West thinks about economics.

With his victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the most shocking election in recent memory, Virginia congressional candidate Dave Brat has quickly replaced Thomas Piketty as the obscure economist every media outlet must express an opinion about. Though most of the focus thus far has been on the mechanics of Brat’s electoral victory rather than his beliefs about the organization of society, the paper trail of his academic career is also making headlines. Is he a Randian? A theocrat? Does he really think, as one Wall Street Journal headline suggested, that Hitler is coming back?

In an effort to dig deeper, Zach Beauchamp at Vox managed to uncover an unpublished text from Brat’s personal website entitled The Philosophy of Economics: A History of Science, Method, and Ethics. It’s a rough manuscript that is more of a reading guide to economic thinkers than a book in its own right, but nevertheless Brat’s work is a laudable attempt to lead readers toward the toughest questions undergirding modern economic theory.

And that, really, is the shocking part. A man who will likely ascend to a seat in Congress has produced a substantive and provocative line of inquiry that incorporates and critiques the thought of Smith, Locke, Mill, Schumpeter, and more. Is the claim that economics is a science justified? Are the findings of economics neutral with respect to morality and metaphysics? And do our economists—almost all of whom check “yes” to those questions—live and work in accordance with their own beliefs about what they are doing?

Since you will probably never read an excerpt of Brat’s manuscript in The Atlantic, nor find a scathing review in the New York Times, I’ve pulled out five quotes that illustrate Brat’s radical line of inquiry.

 

1) On John Locke’s theological vision:

“The Puritan theology of a life lived as the fulfillment of a series of ‘covenants’ or ‘contracts’ before God would take a secular form in the political and economic theories of Locke. Locke’s extremely influential theory of the state as a ‘social contract’ is, in essence, the Puritan society of covenants in a secular dress.”

From the beginning, you can see the fruit of Brat’s training in theology alongside his economic work. He understands that the theories of modern economics were not conceived out of thin air or deduced from experiments; rather, they have roots in history, philosophy, and theology. Without an openness toward the insights of these liberal arts, one will not be able to understand the import of the theories themselves.

In this case, following other authors, Brat argues that Locke’s theory of the social contract reflects a particular strain of Puritan theology rather than an empirical observation about the nature of government. It’s a simple enough insight, but if true, it opens up for critique the social-contract basis that is taken for granted by all Western governments, which insists on a purely secular patrimony in all matters of public interest, including law and economics.

 

2) On the claim that modern economics is neutral on ethical questions:

“It is by no means apparent why humans are or should be treated as equals in the modern world of economics! Make sure you reread that sentence. In fact, modern economics by definition refuses to make such normative claims.”

The refusal to make normative claims is par for the course in an introductory economics class. Economics, it is said, is a science, and as such ethical considerations must be left out of it. Economics simply describes the way things are.

Brat questions whether such an approach is even possible, but here he wants to emphasize that even if it were, we would be left with profoundly troubling conclusions. A discipline that cannot acknowledge even the most basic moral principles is open to the most horrendous abuses. It is disturbing for Brat that on economists’ own terms, the inherent dignity of the individual so often invoked by modern free-market advocates in the political sphere has no basis in reality whatsoever.

The common objection to this observation is that economists are simply neutral with regard to morality, which is different from saying that there is no morality at all. But Brat’s survey of economic theory shows that this position is incoherent. Economics claims to be value-neutral because it defines itself as a modern science similar to physics or chemistry. But modern science as a whole is based on a theory of knowledge that renders all normative or metaphysical claims false or meaningless. There is no neutral ground.

 

3) On Adam Smith’s theory of the mechanism of self-interest in the market:

“If this theory could now illuminate the true Newtonian mechanics of ‘society,’ men would finally have in their possession a proper understanding of the real workings of nature. With this knowledge, the valid route to human happiness, the path to future social progress—indeed, the very means of achievement of heaven on earth—would be revealed. . . . One might say that for the first time, salvation came to be associated with the economic progress of society. The religion of the Enlightenment became an economic faith.”

Here Brat grasps something that almost no other modern economists have bothered to grapple with: the metaphysical significance of the shift initiated by Smith. Smith’s inquiry into the causes of the wealth of nations is an attempt to find laws that govern economic relations, just as Newton sought to discover laws that govern physical relations. And just as Newton’s laws allow human beings to manipulate physical objects, the discovery of economic laws will allow man to manipulate human relations to create a better society, slowly usurping the traditional salvific role of religion in favor of purely material ends.

These are indeed the types of claims we see being made by economists today. The progress of economic laws has delivered us from evil. To give one recent example, Kevin Williamson at National Review has gone so far as to say that capitalism has proven Jesus Christ wrong. In this regard, as Peter Lawler has pointed out, triumphal capitalist economists are every bit as progressive, utopian, and materialist as their Marxist counterparts.

 

4)      On the confluence of John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant:

“So at this point in history, between Mill and the next generation of Political Economists, a severe split between reason and ethics occurred. Yet this split was ironic as Kant had sought to confine religion and ethics firmly within the bounds of reason alone. After Kant, science proceeded ‘as if’ only phenomena or objects from the physical world could be known for certain. This split has remained to this day in the distinction between the positive sciences which describe ‘what is’ and the normative disciplines which describe what ‘ought to be.’”

Kant and Mill are often treated as the thinkers at opposite ends of the range of moral thought. Kant thought that ethical behavior could be determined by using reason to discern universal laws, while Mill’s work on utilitarianism located ethics in those actions and structures that were calculated to provide the greatest good for the greatest number.

While there is certainly a difference between those views, Brat notes their shared premise that there is a clear divide between empirical observation and reasoned ethical principles. For Mill, all metaphysical speculation is invalid, so it is impossible for there to exist knowledge that transcends experience, leaving us with an ethics expressed only in pleasure units. For Kant, reasoning shapes our experience such that while there are indeed ethical imperatives, they are not the result of experience. This division between is and ought is foundational in modern economics as well, giving rise to a host of contradictions and conundrums.

 

5)      On the troubled economic theory of Milton Friedman:

“The key point to remember here is that Friedman has convinced us that ‘prediction’ is the task and goal of positive science. It is not required that we understand the behavior in question, only that we best predict it.”

Throughout the work, Brat pokes holes in the various forms of positivism that economic theorists have advanced. Here Brat is explaining the problems with Milton Friedman’s theory of economic knowledge, which Friedman locates in the ability of economics to make correct predictions.

Friedman’s claim may seem inoffensive at first, as again it simply mirrors the hard sciences. But Brat conveys the classic challenge, which is that there may be multiple incompatible theories that correctly predict a given phenomenon. One famous example of this comes from the history of astronomy, where we find periods in which geocentric models of the universe and heliocentric models of the universe could both predict the movements of the planets and stars. On the basis of predictability alone, there was no way to determine which model was correct.

Friedman understands that this is a problem, but proposes the radical solution that science simply stop trying to understand the world. Explanations per se are not important, as reality itself is not the subject of scientific inquiry. There is no reality or nature to be studied; there are merely accurate and inaccurate predictions.

If Brat wins the general election, he will become one of the few—or perhaps only—sitting members of Congress to raise serious questions about how the modern West thinks about economics. Brat makes clear that questions about the ethical foundations of the economic order are not side conversations reserved for the ivory tower, but essential to any discussion of law and policy. That the mainstream media ignores this side of Brat is indicative of their interests—easily digestible soundbites that can be used to smear candidates they dislike as ignorant extremists. Let’s hope that Brat continues to smash presumptions.

 

Matthew Gerken is client services manager at American Philanthropic. He is a a 2010-2011 ISI Honors Scholar. 

 

 

  • Chase Padusniak

    He’s certainly an academic and intelligent, but that does not mean his politics will be reasonable or even move the GoP in a good direction. I would like less libertarianism, please.

    But we will see where this goes; there’s a lot left to see.

    • nuwriter

      And libertarianism is unreasonable why, exactly?

      The libertarian direction that the GOP is taking is bad why, exactly?

      • Bigfoot Steve

        And libertarianism is unreasonable why, exactly?

        Amnesty and open borders for one. Heck, that’s enough.

        • nuwriter

          So the same government you rightly distrust on nearly every other issue should be in charge of people’s movements?

          How very socialist of you.

          • Chase Padusniak

            Well because I’m much more a Tory than a libertarian. I find any political philosophy rooted entirely in Enlightenment thought disagreeable.

            I hold a more Aristotelian definition of freedom than most people today. Freedom consists in control, not the unleashing of passion, which libertarianism while it may preach against it, let’s it happen.

            But that’s just my 2 cents.

          • John Smith

            “Controlled” freedom? The Soviet or N. Korean model?

          • Chase Padusniak

            Not controlled freedom. Freedom as control. Controlled freedom assumes the libertarian-enlightenment definition of freedom, which Communism also assumes.

            I’m talking about freedom as Aristotle formulated it; freedom to overcome slavery to passion.

          • Guest

            Tsk. You are arguing with a True Believer. That is analogous to pounding sand down a rat hole.

          • nuwriter

            Sounds like you’re the “true believer.”

            You don’t seem to have anything at all to say, save for an ad hominem.

            I can see why you’d be opposed to sand in a rat hole. It would ruin your whole house.

          • Euclid

            Not the best impression of libertarians you’re giving there, nu… what was that you said about ad hominem? You should ask yourself whether you want to ‘win’ this argument or actually convince people.
            To Chase, I found your comments to be well thought out and interesting. Thanks for sharing!

          • nuwriter

            Chase’s comments are frankly, and ad hominem at their base. Just throw a bunch of names out without any regard to their actual ideas to justify violence against peaceful people.

            The impression I’m giving is fine, and I will take your opinion for all that it is worth.

          • Euclid

            You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means…
            But in fairness, I’ll put forward something I appreciated about Chase’s comments. He noted Machiavelli’s seminal influence: he represents a significant shift from pursuit of the supreme good to the pursuit of commodity: from the sort of virtuous idealism you get from Aristotle and Socrates to a more utilitarian viewpoint. Of course, I’m basically just rehashing what Chase already said.
            With regard to ‘controlled’ freedom, I believe Chase is talking about self-control, without which freedom wouldn’t be worth much. I don’t think freedom as the absence of outside influence is an adequate definition. No one can really be cut off from all outside intervention. You can’t control everything, and really I don’t see why you’d want to…
            Bah, look at that, you got me rambling! And here I meant to go to bed early. For future reference, ‘ad hominem’ would mean Chase was attacking you personally, referencing something unrelated to the discussion. I haven’t seen that from Chase so far. Perhaps you should reassess your use of the phrase? Here is an informative link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

          • nuwriter

            For someone with absolutely nothing to add, you sure have a lot to say.

          • Euclid

            Plato’s Republic, VII.539b

          • nuwriter

            Nonsense.
            The libertarian definition of freedom is the absence of outside intervention. It’s a negative right.
            The communist version of freedom is a positive right. I’d be free from want, etc.

            They’re polar opposites.

          • Chase Padusniak

            Both are rooted in Enlightenment thought. One is rooted in Hobbes/Locke, the other in their critic/developer Rousseau. Both are distinct from the earlier tradition of Aristotle.

            Machiavelli is usually seen as the historical “breaking point” between the two views.

          • nuwriter

            I think in some way you really want to have this be a deeply meaningful statement your making.

            It isn’t.

            Great, you think these ideas are rooted in the same century, are thus related, and are practically the same.

            They’re polar opposites. It doesn’t matter what century they’re from.

            Machiavelli is not a “breaking point” between the two. Machiavelli held no use for the rights of the individual at all – although really Machiavelli’s view of rights had more to do with who was paying him at the time, or who he wanted to suck up to the most.

          • Chase Padusniak

            I didn’t say it was profound. It’s just a fact is all.

            It’s not that they’re from the same century; it’s that they’re building on one another. Rousseau is to Locke/Hobbes as Porphyry is to Plotinus or as Marx is to Feuerbach. They are critical of each other, but ultimately building on the same basic pool of thought and tradition. They are not as different as you would like to think.

            And Machiavelli is largely considered the beginning of “modern” political philosophy in which virtue is subordinated to, well, lots of stuff, but desire notably. This paves the way for the other Enlightenment thinkers.

      • Thomist

        “The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.” Edmund Burke

        • nuwriter

          This is compared to the effects of government on individuals.

          Because people might act badly with liberty, we must have a government that we know will act badly.

      • quirkycatholic

        The problem with libertarianism is that it ignores the historical fact that unrestrained capitalism inevitably leads to Big Business, which is just as incompetent and abusive as Big Government — in either case, power corrupts.
        Libertarianism makes a major mistake by forsaking morality and thus leaving society as a mad scramble of competition that becomes a survival of the fittest not in the sense of virtue and valor, but more often in the sense of craftiness and greed.
        If the libertarians have forgotten the abuses of unregulated capitalism, such as 12-hour workdays, 6-day workweeks, no vacations, no insurance; and pathetically low wages; dangerous and dirty and despicable working conditions; child labor; company towns, environmental degradation at its most disgusting

        • nuwriter

          Libertarianism does not “forsake morality”. This is a straw man argument. Libertarians merely don’t hold that that the state is above the law. They also don’t feel that vices are crimes.

          Libertarianism is based in morality – the morality of the non-aggression principle.

          You clearly were hanging off every word that your Marxist history teacher taught you.

          The actual history of the 19th century is somewhat different. You seem to be of the notion that throughout human history things were a panacea, and then capitalism happened, and all the ills you spoke of suddenly appeared. This is nonsense.

          It’s not that libertarians have ignored anything. You’ve ignored quite a bit.

          It was capitalism that brought us shorter working hours, the end of child labor, cleaner and safer working conditions, and rising wages. Yes, real wages were rising throughout the 19th century – with no regulation at all. Working hours went down – with no regulations at all.

          Child labor, which was the natural condition of man from the beginning of time, started to go down during the 19th century, as was basically gone before any government law was made about it.

          It was the increased production made possible by increased capital investment that made it possible to produce enough to keep people alive in fewer hours, provide them with better working conditions, and not send their children to work.

          The facts don’t back up your story. Throughout the period of what you would call “unregulated capitalism” people’s lives were improving in real terms. Their life spans were going up. Infant mortality was going down. Living standards were increasing. And this had never happened across the board like this in the entirety of human history. You, and many others take this for granted – yet you are alive because of it.

          By placing the blame for the things cured by capitalism at the feet of capitalism, you open the door to support government – which actually is horrific.

          Governments killed over 250 million people outside of war in the last century.

          Many of those governments were telling people they were protecting them from “unregulated capitalism.”

          Your “middle way” of “economic moderation” is the path to fascism and totalitarianism, and away from voluntary interaction.

          The only way to economic “fairness” is through the voluntary interaction of free markets.

          • quirkycatholic

            It seems to me that a corporate colossus will crush the ordinary man as readily and as easily as a massive federal government. Both are scary, and even more so when they collaborate through campaign contributions and political payback. Meanwhile, businessmen get seats in Congress, and former Congressmen move into corporate boardrooms. The economic game is rigged; free markets are an illusion; and the common man is frustrated, if not devastated, by machinations he hardly understands.
            (By the way, I sincerely appreciate the discussion, nuwriter, and wish you the best. I still have a lot to learn on these matters, and am glad to hear what others have to say.)

          • nuwriter

            A corporate colossus must serve its customers in order to survive.
            The only thing scary about a corporation now is its ability to influence government, and rig the economic game.
            But this is a function of government.
            But here’s a quick thought experiment.
            Which call would you feel more comfortable hanging up on – an Apple Computer sales call… or the IRS?

          • ZincKidd

            Such a free market has never existed. One must ask, why not?

          • nuwriter

            And one can quickly see the obvious answer – power is attractive.

            There has never been a society without murder – by your logic this would be a viable defense for murder.

            The fact is that the freer the market, the greater the degree of economic growth.

      • Penny For The Guy

        Since you asked.
        Libertarianism is anti-Christian. Mainly from its fond assumption (similar to the Marxist delusion) that people are naturally good and it is only the evil State which makes them bad; get the State off people’s backs, and their natural goodness will produce paradise.
        A Christian believes in The Fall, and that people are NOT naturally good. They will not, absent a State, fall into “correct” social structures.
        Second, the idea of the “night-watchman state” is absurd. What is to prevent a gang of Al Capones from massing more force than the night-watchman and taking over? That is how the feudal Great Houses of Europe came about, a bunch of thugs taking over an area and reducing the populace to serfdom.
        Third, the proposition that a person may do as they please unless they infringe on the rights of some other person… Why? In practical terms, not the cloud-cuckoo-land theories of Libertarians a person will do as they please unless stopped by superior force, and then you have Alistair Cowley’s Satanist admonition, “Do what thou wilt is the whole of the Law.”
        Fourth, in order to maintain the Libertarian Utopia, every person would have to be armed to the teeth to prevent infringement on their rights. And in that case, you would not have a society, you would have Somalia.
        Fifth, and most amusingly, the Libertarians I know have this amazing conceit that if the State were to vanish, they would come out on top of the dog fight because of their superior qualities, real Nietszchean Supermen, they are.
        Oh yes, Sixth, I have never met a libertarian (or read a treatise by one) who comprehends the necessity for infrastructure in modern economic systems, nor how such comes about. They all seem to think that, like Topsy, it “jest growed.” Yeah!
        As Groucho once said, those are my reasons, if you don’t like them, there are others, but here is not enough space to list them all.

        • nuwriter

          Since you responded with fallacy, let me correct you. You’re awfully arrogant, so dismantling your grade-school level argument will actually be enjoyable.

          Libertarianism is not anti-Christian. Frankly, it’s the only political philosophy that is not anti-Christian. It does not rely on the use of violent force against peaceful people.

          Secondly, it does not assume that “people are naturally good.” This is a straw man argument that comes from listening to people talk about libertarians, and not actually listening to libertarians. Libertarians believe that people are people. There are bad people out there, and you don’t want those people in charge of the state, with its monopoly on the legal use of violent force. The state does not make people be good – it does provide an instrument for them to do a great deal of bad.
          Your third point is barely a point. Law comes before government. Private law and private courts would still exist in a free society. Read anything by Bob Murphy for a further exposition of this. Your dismissal of natural law seems to come from a misunderstanding of natural law. You seem to prefer the current system, where millions of people are jailed each year for possessing a plant the government disapproves of – while most murders and thefts go unsolved.
          Your fourth point ignores the fact that people work together not because they have to, but because it’s much easier to trade with someone than it is to steal from them. This is how societies actually did form in the first place. You don’t have to be armed to the teeth. You just have to make it advantageous to trade, rather than to steal.

          Nice that you bring up Somalia. It’s a talking point that those who bring up have never actually researched. I do hate to break it to you, but Somalia was better off without a state than it was with it. Life spans were longer. Productivity was up. Crime was down. It was better off than all of its neighbors.
          Your fifth point relies on your teenage fourth point. Since markets are not the battle of “all against all” it doesn’t matter who the strongest is.
          Your sixth point relies on the near childish belief that only the government can figure out how to pave a road. This is despite the fact that the first roads were private. I’m guessing that this was the answer that libertarians have given you, and you heard what you wanted to hear. That you haven’t read a treatise by one would probably owe to the fact that you clearly haven’t read many treatises at all. I’m guessing there’s not a lot of Rothbard, Bastiat, Hoppe or Walter Block in your reading history.
          You did give many reasons, and all of them have now been completely refuted.

          • Penny For The Guy

            ROFL!!
            Bastiat, Rothbard, Hayek, von Mises, Hazlitt, H.G. Weaver, R. Weaver, Boaz, Rand, and so on ad nauseum. Read them? I have shelves of books in my library which I have pursued in a vain attempt to discover anything good in libertarianism. So far, I have found nothing but assumptions and hot air and the ever-present declaration, “If people would just do what WE think, al would be well.”
            Like far too many advocates for libertarianism, you resort to scabrous ad hominem attacks when disagreed with. Nor do you appear to be willing to accept anything but the arguments derived from you own echo chamber.
            I studied libertarianism for a good many years, since 1965, I am familiar with people you may have never heard of. That is why I reject it.
            You think that screeching in my direction is a rebuttal? Kiddo, you have a lot to learn regarding debate on a level playing field. However, I have far better things to do than massage your ego.
            As for you, you wish to pick a cat-fight? Carry on.
            As for me, my name is Dances With Wolves. I have nothing more to say to you. You are not worth talking to.
            Bye, bye, birdie.

          • nuwriter

            It’s funny that you start with ad hominem arguments, and don’t get any better from there, then have the gall to accuse me of the same. Never mind that each of your six fallacies was completely buried. There was no screeching in your direction. Rather, that’s the direction that the screeching is coming from. Your lecturing efforts would be better directed at your mirror – as you have a projection problem, “kiddo.”

            You say you’ve read these people, then how do you have no idea what they’ve actually read. You may own the books (though I highly doubt it), but to claim you’ve read them shows that either your a liar, or you have extremely poor reading comprehension skills. None of them base anything on “people are basically good.”

            If you’d read no libertarians, and only a couple of lazy Rolling Stone articles, you’d have made exactly the same arguments you did.

            You say your familiar with people I’ve never heard of – but you say that libertarians base things on assumptions that no libertarian actually makes. You aren’t breaking any new ground with any of your arguments – but parroting the talking points. I mean really, Somalia? Too funny.

            Of course you think I’m not worth talking to – I disagree with the 3×5 card of opinion you think is allowable.

      • FederalFarmer1787

        There are a lot of reasons why it is problematic. Libertarianism quickly leads into relativism and we cannot run a society on that. There is a legitimate form of government, and a certain amount of intervention that serves society well.

        • nuwriter

          It’s statism that leads to relativism. It is government that twists morals to its liking. Government that steals trillions each year, kills thousands, and kidnaps millions.

          “We” cannot run a society. Millions of people making their own decisions run a society.

          No, there is no legitimate amount of force against peaceful people – as that is what government is.

          And no, there is no amount of intervention in the lives of peaceful people that serves “society” well.

          • FederalFarmer1787

            What is the nature of government?

            Is government just a big bully that pushes around peaceful people?

          • nuwriter

            The nature of government is exactly a group of people with a legal monopoly on the use of violent force.

            The government is not your selfless protector, and it is not the solver of problems.

          • FederalFarmer1787

            I would say that government is not evil. This current government we have is, but not all government.

            I never called it my protector, or the solver of problems, but there are things the government does a good job with. They have certain functions. Like I said earlier, I think the current government we have is grossly overstepping it’s boundaries

          • nuwriter

            All governments are not the same, and are not equally evil – but all are based on force, or the threat of force against peaceful people. This is much the same way that all assaults are not the same.

            Which functions do you think government does a good job with?

            I can’t think of any.

          • FederalFarmer1787

            Humans have proven to not be “peaceful” creatures naturally. Conflict inevitably arises, and the government must be there to respond. For instance, when a criminal robs a store owner, there must be a third party to step in and deal with the situation. Call it what you will, but that entity is always a government of some sort.

          • nuwriter

            Humans have proven to be remarkably peaceful creatures.

            Governments have not. The last century should have cured anyone naive enough to still be living under that fantasy.

            Conflict is not inevitable in the market – just the opposite. It is harmony that is the norm on the market. Market transactions are mutually beneficial.

            For instance, when a criminal robs a store owner, it is not at all logical that there must be a violent monopoly which will “step in and deal with the situation”.

            Government is not a disinterested party, it is not a referee. It’s also the case that government actions cause a great deal of crime – to wit, see the results of the prohibitions of alcohol and drugs.

            Furthermore, the biggest thief is government. Private theft is far, far less than the levels of theft by government.

      • FederalFarmer1787

        Nice Moultrie flag by the way!

        • nuwriter

          You as well.

    • xman_11530

      Libertarianism = Less government = Good

  • gertkvist

    Isn’t the whole article a call for more Austrian economics ‘a la Hayek? Also, what does Brat say about Schrumpeters “creative destruction” and it’s implications for “to big to fail” companies?

  • reggiec

    I understand Brat is a follower of the Austrian model of economics advanced by F.A.Hayek, if that is the case I support him absolutely.

    ***

    Government lacks the flexibility and self-interest involved
    in evaluating the availability of present and future resources, consumer desires, profit and loss ratios, market opportunities or threats and the restraints placed on the free market for risk taking with private capital.

    F. A. Hayek stated this very succinctly in his Nobel Prize
    lecture from 1974, “The Pretense of Knowledge.”

    “To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is
    likely to make us do much harm. . . The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach
    the student of society a lesson in humility, which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society—a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.”

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  • John Smith

    What’s shocking is your shock. Mises.org