Attention, Deirdre McCloskey: Here’s the Big Thing about the Bourgeoisie

Five years after Bourgeois Dignity the third and last volume of Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Trilogy, all 787 pages, has hit the UPS truck. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say anything that McCloskey hasn’t already said. The new book is titled Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital and Institutions, Enriched the World. The subtitle gives the clue. The book is about defending McCloskey’s thesis from two other narratives about capitalism. First, the capital-as-accumulation notion, as recently advanced by French lefty Thomas Piketty in Capitalism in the Twenty-first Century and taken apart here; and second, the idea that it was institutions that made the difference. McCloskey will have none of it. It was ideas, rhetoric, she writes, a different way of thinking about the world that powered the Great Enrichment, the astonishing rise in income from $3 per person per day to the present $100-120 per day. There has never been anything like it, ever. Apart from a...(Read Full Article)