The Black Lives Matter protests, with their accompanying riots and all the sequels that brought them about, bring to the fore Leftist demands for fundamental changes to the American way of the classical liberal order.

Let’s review what that order gained us, and the changes we made before:

The ethical framework for how change should take place should be:

1) As peaceful as possible (so the communist revolutions are out).
2) Evolutionarily stable. The correct change (communism is out again). If it takes too much input (ie resources, taxes), the evolutionary stable framework criterion is not met (the European welfare systems? We will see).
3) Incremental, to ensure that evolutionary stability. We should add these changes should happen with a minimum of gaming (where the USA increasingly fails).

Post COVID (we hope “post”), it looks like we will have yet another technological/economic evolution: remote working, remote shopping, remote gathering. Where would we be in this isolating pandemic without Amazon? Where would economic functionality be without remote working (no government policy mandated Zoom)? The massive EU bureaucracies helped them not at all with this peaceful transition.

Just counting post-World War II, radical adaptations to the basic forms of the American economy were made:

1) Entry of women into the workplace.
2) Accommodation of minorities in the workplace.
3) Accommodation of older people in the workplace, made possible (and necessary) by everyone’s longer lifespans.
4) Farming going from 90% employer to less than 5%.
5) A third of total worker compensation taking the form of healthcare/retirement benefits.
6) Globalization of the industrial base.

To this list you probably could add that the American economy created the lion’s share of innovation that made modern life able to accomplish all this, the whole “Western” world over (there is a reason Silicon Valley did not happen in the Tiber river valley).

To which we should add that our adaptive system makes us the only developed country able to adjust (peacefully, incrementally, in an evolutionarily stable way) to the problem of the demographic death spiral (ironically, largely caused by the prosperity of the other changes). 1 in 4 Americans has family that were born in another country. These really are transformations 7 and 8.

The cherry on top of our peaceful adaptation sundae: the USA is the world’s third most populous country, and the only one with a virtual assurance of entry into the middle class provided you do three things: get married before you have children; graduate high school before you get married and have children; turn 21 before you get married and have children. India and China (populations 1 and 2) would agree this should not too much to ask of any citizen.

Where is our argument of stagnant worker improvement in this light? It’s infantile to argue that because one doesn’t see the money the economy produced going into their healthcare and retirement, it doesn’t exist (people dying of poverty certainly notice its absence).

One might argue laws and regulations mandated much of this. But that won’t explain how the laws can mandate the economy grow well enough to accomplish it all. Tally up the list to see that’s a hell of a lot of growth. Just take number 5): try taxing away a third of a worker’s salary in a poor, non-capitalistic society and see what evolutionary stability you get afterwards.

Be agape (or agog, your choice, oh libertarian, I’d rather be agape) at the completeness, and seamless smoothness of the American transformations, along with the minimum of violence it took us to get there (judged by historical evidence everywhere else). Where it was violent, the civil rights struggle, I’d argue the struggle upheld the ideals of the framework of classical liberalism (which libertarianism seeks to extend), which is agreed upon in every ethical/holy book system the world has ever known (the sanctity and accountably of the individual soul). We failed where we were hypocrites to the values that make us peacefully adaptive (and so, rich).

Race hatred and violence was mainly salved by the prosperity made possible by our dynamism: it’s hard to image people of color rising up in quality-of-life in the South, irrespective of what the law mandated, irrespective of how many reconstructing guerrilla wars we had to fight, if “they” were trapped in the South’s rat-cage of poverty. The political process of reconstruction was more hare-brained than any of the processes we have now. Delivery (the Great Migration) came in the form of non-violent, incremental, properly adaptive economic growth. How many more Dr. Kings, blessed as he was, would have been martyred if they remained in that backward system?

Our incremental is not even so incremental, and is actually quite radical and speedy, as human evolutions go: the Voting Rights Act was passed a year after I was born. Yet my dad went away to college in Virginia, in the late 1950s, convinced a race war was imminent.

To challengers of the classical liberal ideal: one cannot use hypocrisy to values as evidence the actual values of the system are illegitimate. What is wrong with our outcomes now can be righted with the ways we used to right things before.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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