;



Victor Davis Hanson: A Nation of Peasants?

Roundup: Historians' Take




[Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.]

Traditional peasant societies believe in only a limited amount of good. The more your neighbor earns, the less someone else gets. Profits are seen as a sort of theft; they must be either hidden or redistributed. Envy, rather than admiration of success, reigns.

In contrast, Western civilization began with a very different, ancient Greek idea of an autonomous citizen, not an indentured serf or subsistence peasant. The small, independent landowner — if he was left to his own talents, and if his success was protected by, and from, government — would create new sources of wealth for everyone. The resulting greater bounty for the poor soon trumped their old jealousy of the better-off....

We seem to be forgetting that lately — though Mao Zedong’s redistributive failures in China, or present-day bankrupt Greece, should warn us about what happens when government tries to enforce an equality of result rather than equality of opportunity....
Read entire article at National Review

comments powered by Disqus