Monthly Archives: September 2014

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Minuet #5 (Renaissance Minuet), Op. 39 (2005) – Musical Composition and Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Music, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 28, 2014
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This minuet was composed by Mr. Stolyarov in 2005 using a style and harmonies reminiscent of secular European music of the 15th and 16th centuries. It conveys a simultaneously vibrant and nostalgic mood.

This work was remastered using the SynthFont2 software, with the Evanescence 2 and GMR Basico 1.1 instrument packs.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

The artwork is Mr. Stolyarov’s Abstract Orderism Fractal 55, available for download here and here.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

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Minuet #4 (Triumphal Minuet), Op. 36 (2004) – Musical Composition and Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Music, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 27, 2014
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Mr. Stolyarov composed this classically inspired minuet for piano in 2004. It conveys a mood of achievement, celebration, and forward-looking aspiration.

This work was remastered using the SynthFont2 software, with the Evanescence 2 and GMR Basico 1.1 instrument packs.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

The artwork is Mr. Stolyarov’s Abstract Orderism Fractal 56, available for download here and here.
Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

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The Continued Momentum of “Death is Wrong” in August-September 2014 – Post by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Economics, Philosophy, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 25, 2014
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GSII_Age_5_QuoteI am pleased to report that, through late August and September 2014, the momentum of Death is Wrong has continued.

An excellent and entertaining recent interview of me was done by Leonardo Nunes Ricucci on La República Democrática de Leo, where we discussed Death is Wrong, transhumanism, indefinite life extension, risk management, and related topics. You can listen to the podcast and download an MP3 file of the episode here.

On September 6, 2014, Roen Horn of the Eternal Life Fan Club interviewed Wendy and me about Death is Wrong and related arguments for life extension and technological progress. The interview was extensive, and many subjects were discussed. Watch it here.

Here is the video trailer that was posted two days in advance of the interview.

Roen has been doing excellent work in recording his Death is Wrong book giveaways on video. Here is a quick video of his second giveaway of a book to a family with four children.

The book has continued to play a role in discussions of longevity and future remedies to the ravages of senescence. Here is a great post by Will Muessig of Unity Politics, mentioning Death is Wrong and refuting Ezekiel Emanuel’s deeply fallacious recent article about why age 75 is a good age to die.

I am also pleased to have had my thoughts included in “Cyborgs: The truth about human augmentation” – an excellent new article by Frank Swain on BBC Future. Mr. Swain had previously interviewed me about Death is Wrong, which led to his article “How to live forever” being published by BBC Future in April 2014. This time Mr. Swain asked me to help debunk common myths about human augmentation, and was happy to share my vision of “a future in which a thousand augmented flowers bloom” and in which augmentations will help people live longer, more fulfilling lives as well.

The continued infusion of the ideas of indefinite life extension into publicly prominent discussions was one of my key aims in writing Death is Wrong. Just like our book-distribution campaign, this aim is being fulfilled right now, and it will hopefully keep paying cultural dividends to the longevity movement for months and years to come.

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Mr. Stolyarov’s Thoughts on Human Augmentation Cited by Frank Swain of BBC Future

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Categories: Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 25, 2014
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I am pleased to have had my thoughts included in “Cyborgs: The truth about human augmentation” – an excellent new article by Frank Swain on BBC Future. Mr. Swain had previously interviewed me about my illustrated children’s book Death is Wrong, which led to his article “How to live forever” being published by BBC Future in April 2014.

This time Mr. Swain asked me to help debunk common myths about human augmentation, and here is an excerpt from the article that conveys my reply.

Some would express fear that emerging augmentations would create an arms race, that threatens to leave behind those who choose not to be augmented,” agrees Gennady Stolyarov, who told me in April that death was not inevitable. “But this assumes everyone will seek to compete with everyone else.”

Stolyarov foresees a different outcome. Instead of relentlessly optimising ourselves to a model of perfection, he predicts an explosion of diversity. “Different people would choose to augment themselves in different ways, stretching their abilities in different directions. We will not see a monolithic hierarchy of some augmented humans at the top, while the non-augmented humans get relegated to the bottom,” he reasons. “Rather, widespread acceptance of emerging technologies would create a future where a thousand augmented flowers will bloom.”

I prefer Stolyarov’s vision of the future, and it’s one I subscribe to. Mass literacy didn’t result in everyone competing to read the same books, it created a market for everything from pulpy romance novels to weighty tomes on ancient history. People explored the ideas they felt expressed themselves. There’s no reason to think future human technologies won’t play out in the same way. 

Read Mr. Swain’s insightful article for an account of his own experiences as a cyborg living today, and for a great discussion of the potential that technological augmentation offers for humans to overcome current limitations and extend their abilities beyond historical boundaries.

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Final Level – 1 Life Left – Big Boss Man: Grim Reaper – Article by Eric Schulke

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Categories: Philosophy, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Eric Schulke
September 24, 2014
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The grim reapers of the world are like metaphorical big boss men. It’s like fighting a dragon that lives at the end of a great pass, or a King Koopa at the end of the last level. If you don’t destroy the grim reaper within your 90 years or so of “free lives”, then you never get to play the game of life again. We can choose to put our intellectual, problem-solving, level-navigating skills to the test to see if we can do it.

We do that by supporting the research that is working to do it. Play the game of life. The controls are completely integrated into your surroundings, and it comes with a fully immersive virtual reality option. It’s like Mario can navigate areas where he can choose from levels like, teleconferencing with the World Health Organization to help problem-solve the orchestration of a beneficial convention, or navigating the 5 largest cities of a small map to pin up enough fliers to get at least 100 people to show up at an organization’s life-extension rally.

Reaper_MILE_Ad“Beat the Reaper” ad developed by Wendy Stolyarov.

After you spend some time going through the routines of the levels, it becomes easier, and your controller speed and dexterity increases. It is the same with support of the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension. Bio-technology, lab equipment, and the political, social, commercial, and other contributions that go into it, are your controllers. After you’ve spent some time going through various levels in the chambers of the game, you’ll have more confidence in helping the growing collective of us to continue getting to and entering that final level, to work on beating the grim reaper.  We go in independent missions and through various united efforts, sometimes with slingshots, sometimes with Battle Ship fleets; sometimes with tested, comprehensive, long-term strategies, and the backing of nations of focused, practiced, fervent supporters.

There is a lot of good practical and theoretical research on ending aging, diseases, and other forms of death, and a lot more that can be completed and dreamt up by the new minds entering in on this great mission. There are small, growing pockets of students, activists, researchers and others around the world that are already doing things like chipping away at the roots of aging, working on preserving consciousness, and finding more algorithms that can help crunch data for cures.

Play “Beat the Reaper” with us. It’s an epic game.

MILE_Logo

When most people understand the importance of integrating this into their lives, they will be compelled to, and want to, and find satisfaction in helping to beat these levels. People will think about all resources available to them as being of potential assistance to this cause, in even small capacities, like pinning up a life-extension post card in their office.

This requires world support, which will not arrive until your example leads the thoughts of the people you come in contact with to notice how valuable this is, and gives them ideas to mull over on what they might decide to do to contribute. The goal of indefinite life extension gets here after we all join in and do what it takes to get the work done to make it happen. Help the people, projects, and organizations that are working on indefinite life extension to succeed by talking about their breakthroughs, reading about conference reports, suggesting books about it to people, encouraging your friends to team up with the various projects and events related to it, and most importantly, by leading the way for more of the people around you. Play the game. We can beat the reaper. Make time for indefinite life extension so that indefinite life extension can make time for you.

Eric Schulke was a director at LongeCity during 2009-2013. He has also been an activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension and other causes for over 13 years.

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Indefinite Life Extension: The Pay is $Infinity – Article by Eric Schulke

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Categories: Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Eric Schulke
September 22, 2014
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World awareness of indefinite-life-extension research increases the percentage of people who will then want to contribute to its success. When we inform the mainstream of most of the industrialized world and beyond, about the people, projects, and organizations working directly and indirectly toward indefinite life extension, then a percentage of that world – which is a lot of people at even a fraction of 1% – will be helping to execute the projects that need to be completed to see if we can make this happen.

It looks like we can make indefinite life extension happen, and in more of our lifetimes. All arrows point to the probability of this occurring. We can stop a lot of things that are like the diseases and damages that cause aging already. There are ways to move genes around to cure some diseases; other diseases have been fixed by delivery of proteins in ingenious ways. We can move material between various nuclei, tag specific neurons, custom-make enzymes, do intricate work on the nano-scale, create amazing new methods and mechanisms for working in our cells, and there are countless other inventions. The numbers of them are increasing in fields across the spectrum by the day.

There are also dozens of organizations with countless projects that are working directly toward indefinite life extension every day. Begin contributing to the research and the support structures that help this all excel. Stand up for your life by getting involved. There is seriously way too much to know and experience in this universe to be laying around in a graveyard for eternity.

Everything that humans do is about striving for sustainability and development. Our elders are among the most important capital that we have. Humans, are as far as we can see, among the universe’s most important capital. We can’t afford to “let the universe down”, so to speak, by letting our negligence cause it to lose any of the extraordinary phenomena of sentience that it has produced.  Do you know how long it took it to do that? Do you know how many times it failed to do that across the universe?

You are an important asset to reality, and you are dying, being killed by aging, disease, and biological frailty, and so are all the people around you. You are under attack by mechanisms that are working to kill you at all times. There is not a day that goes by that they don’t drag you closer to your grave. Some of us aren’t able to help ourselves, because those people are dead now. You are still alive, you can still help yourself. There is still a chance for you. You are still able to continue taking part in the marvels and wonders of the universe. Seize the opportunity. Seriously, what more do you want? How much is enough to entice you to stay? What more could you ask for? How much can a person voluntarily throw away? The journey, work, and fun are profoundly fulfilling, and the pay is $infinity.

Come on, let’s get going. We want you on our teams. Be a leader to your peers on this issue. Don’t procrastinate or let your anxiety about talking to people about it let them down. All you have to do is lead them to the extensive networks of indefinite-life-extension projects and organizations. We have the tools and insights to convince people over time, if you would only give them that first chance. A new thought opens a person’s mind more by allowing that person to collect, think about and sort through more insights related to it. Every wave of people that joins us makes it that much easier to get the next and bigger wave to join in. This is critical. Get the people around you to read and think about the various facets of this life-and-death reality, and join its groups and websites. Subscribe to the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension page here to get a lot of core information about organizations, events, activism opportunities, and related topics.

Remember now: when the percentage of world awareness of this cause goes up, then indefinite life extension, if it is possible, will get here faster.

Eric Schulke was a director at LongeCity during 2009-2013. He has also been an activist with the Movement for Indefinite Life Extension and other causes for over 13 years.

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Our Cells Will Be Guided and Protected by Machines – Article by Reason

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Categories: Science, Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Reason
September 21, 2014
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A gulf presently lies between the nanoscale engineering of materials science on the one hand and the manipulation and understanding of evolved biological machinery on the other. In time that gulf will close: future industries will be capable of producing and controlling entirely artificial machines that integrate with, enhance, or replace our natural biological machines. Meanwhile biologists will be manufacturing ever more artificial and enhanced versions of cellular components, finding ways to make them better: evolution has rarely produced the best design possible for any given circumstance. Both sides will work towards one another and eventually meet in the middle.

Insofar as aging goes, a process of accumulating damage and malfunction in our biology, it is likely that this will first be successfully addressed and brought under medical control by producing various clearly envisaged ways to repair and maintain our cells just as they are: remove the damage, restore youthful function, and repeat as necessary. We stand much closer to that goal than the far more ambitious undertaking of building a better, more resilient, more easily repaired cell – a biology 2.0 if you like. That will happen, however. Our near descendants will be as much artificial as natural, and more capable and healthier for it.

The introduction of machinery to form a new human biology won’t happen all at once, however, and it isn’t entirely a far future prospect. There will be early gains and prototypes, the insertion of simpler types of machine into our cells for specific narrow purposes: sequestering specific proteins or wastes, or as drug factories to produce a compound in response to circumstances, or any one of a number of other similar tasks. If you want to consider nanoparticles or engineered assemblies of proteins capable of simple decision tree operations as machines then this has already happened in the lab:

Researchers Make Important Step Towards Creating Medical Nanorobots

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Researchers [have] have made an important step towards creating medical nanorobots. They discovered a way of enabling nano- and microparticles to produce logical calculations using a variety of biochemical reactions. Many scientists believe logical operations inside cells or in artificial biomolecular systems to be a way of controlling biological processes and creating full-fledged micro-and nano-robots, which can, for example, deliver drugs on schedule to those tissues where they are needed.

Further, there is a whole branch of cell research that involves finding ways to safely introduce ever larger objects into living cells, such as micrometer-scale constructs. In an age in which the state of the art for engineering computational devices is the creation of 14 nanometer features, there is a lot that might be accomplished in the years ahead with the space contained within a 1000 nanometer diameter sphere.

Introducing Micrometer-Sized Artificial Objects into Live Cells: A Method for Cell-Giant Unilamellar Vesicle Electrofusion

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Direct introduction of functional objects into living cells is a major topic in biology, medicine, and engineering studies, since such techniques facilitate manipulation of cells and allows one to change their functional properties arbitrarily. In order to introduce various objects into cells, several methods have been developed, for example, endocytosis and macropinocytosis. Nonetheless, the sizes of introducible objects are largely limited: up to several hundred nanometers and a few micrometers in diameter. In addition, the uptake of objects is dependent on cell type, and neither endocytosis nor macropinocytosis occur, for example, in lymphocytes. Even after successful endocytosis, incorporated objects are transported to the endosomes; they are then eventually transferred to the lysosome, in which acidic hydrolases degrade the materials. Hence, these two systems are not particularly suitable for introduction of functionally active molecules and objects.To overcome these obstacles, novel delivery systems have been contrived, such as cationic liposomes and nanomicelles, that are used for gene transfer; yet, only nucleic acids that are limited to a few hundred nanometers in size can be introduced. By employing peptide vectors, comparatively larger materials can be introduced into cells, although the size limit of peptides and beads is approximately 50nm, which is again insufficient for delivery of objects, such as DNA origami and larger functional beads.

Here, we report a method for introducing large objects of up to a micrometer in diameter into cultured mammalian cells by electrofusion of giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs). We prepared GUVs containing various artificial objects using a water-in-oil emulsion centrifugation method. GUVs and dispersed HeLa cells were exposed to an alternating current (AC) field to induce a linear cell-GUV alignment, and then a direct current (DC) pulse was applied to facilitate transient electrofusion.

With uniformly sized fluorescent beads as size indexes, we successfully and efficiently introduced beads of 1 µm in diameter into living cells along with a plasmid mammalian expression vector. Our electrofusion did not affect cell viability. After the electrofusion, cells proliferated normally until confluence was reached, and the introduced fluorescent beads were inherited during cell division. Analysis by both confocal microscopy and flow cytometry supported these findings. As an alternative approach, we also introduced a designed nanostructure (DNA origami) into live cells. The results we report here represent a milestone for designing artificial symbiosis of functionally active objects (such as micro-machines) in living cells. Moreover, our technique can be used for drug delivery, tissue engineering, and cell manipulation.

Cell machinery will be a burgeoning medical industry of the 2030s, I imagine. To my eyes the greatest challenge in all of this is less the mass production of useful machines per se, and more the coordination and control of a body full of tens of trillions of such machines, perhaps from varied manufacturers, introduced for different goals, and over timescales long in comparison to business cycles and technological progress. That isn’t insurmountable, but it sounds like a much harder problem than those inherent in designing these machines and demonstrating them to be useful in cell cultures. It is a challenge on a scale of complexity that exceeds that of managing our present global communications network by many orders of magnitude. If you’ve been wondering what exactly it is we’ll be doing with the vast computational power available to us in the decades ahead, given that this metric continues to double every 18 months or so, here is one candidate.

Reason is the founder of The Longevity Meme (now Fight Aging!). He saw the need for The Longevity Meme in late 2000, after spending a number of years searching for the most useful contribution he could make to the future of healthy life extension. When not advancing the Longevity Meme or Fight Aging!, Reason works as a technologist in a variety of industries. 
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This work is reproduced here in accord with a Creative Commons Attribution license. It was originally published on FightAging.org.

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March #10, Op. 59 (2009) – Musical Composition and Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Music, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 21, 2014
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This march was composed by Mr. Stolyarov in 2009 using harmonies that late-19th-century European composers would have associated with the Middle East.

This work has been remastered using the Finale 2011 software. It is arranged for harpsichord, piano, harp, clarinet, organ, and timpani.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

The artwork is Mr. Stolyarov’s Tesselated Pyramid, available for download here and here.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

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Congress Votes for More War in the Middle East – Article by Ron Paul

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
September 21, 2014
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Last week, the House and Senate voted to rubber-stamp President Obama’s war plans for the Middle East. Both bodies, on a bipartisan basis, authorized the US to begin openly training and arming the rebels who have been fighting for three years to overthrow the Assad government in Syria.

Although the Syrian government has also been fighting ISIS and related extremist groups for three years, the US refuses to speak to the Syrians and has warned Assad not to interfere with the coming US attack on sovereign Syrian territory

President Obama promised that airstrikes alone would “degrade and destroy” ISIS, telling the US military in a speech last week that:

“The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission… I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”

But of course any US troops sent into a war zone are “combat” troops. And more are on their way.

While the president was swearing that there would be no boots on the ground, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, was in open disagreement. General Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that US forces would need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops in combat situations under certain circumstances.

The limited mission the president promised just weeks ago has already greatly escalated, and now threatens to become another major regional war. In reality, however, this is just a continuation of the 24-year US war on Iraq that President George Bush began in 1990 and candidate Obama promised to end as President.

Under last week’s authorization bill, the president would have authority to train 5,000 fighters in Saudi Arabia for insertion into the civil war in Syria. This is in effect a re-arrangement of the deck chairs. To this point the training was carried out by the CIA in Jordan and Turkey. Now, the program will be moved to the Pentagon and to Saudi Arabia.

The CIA training of the rebels thus far has resulted in a direct pipeline of weapons from “vetted moderates” to the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front and to the very ISIS that the administration claims to be fighting. In July, a full brigade of 1,000 fighters affiiated with the US-backed Free Syrian Army joined ISIS! Of course they took their US-provided weapons and training with them, some of which will certainly be used against the rapidly increasing US military personnel in the region.

That Saudi Arabia is considered a suitable place to train Syria’s future leaders must be some kind of sick joke. While ISIS was beheading two American journalists – as horrific as that is – the repressive Saudi theocracy was beheading dozens of its own citizens, often for relatively minor or religious crimes.

If we want to stop radical terrorists from operating in Syria and Iraq, how about telling our ally Saudi Arabia to stop funding and training them? For that matter, how about the US government stops arming and training the various rebel groups in Syria and finally ends its 24-year US war on Iraq?

There are 200 million people bordering the countries where ISIS is currently operating. They are the ones facing the threat of ISIS activity and expansion. Let them fight their own war, rather than turning the US military into the mercenary army of wealthy Gulf states. Remember, they come over here because we are over there. So let’s not be over there any longer.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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The Great Fact: A Review of Deirdre McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Dignity” – Article by Bradley Doucet

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Categories: Culture, Economics, History, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Bradley Doucet
September 20, 2014
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We live in astonishing times. We take it for granted, of course, which is good in a way because, well, we have to get on with the business of living and can’t spend every waking moment going, “Oh my God! This is amazing!” But it’s a good idea to stop and take stock from time to time in order to appreciate just how far we’ve come in the past 200 years or so—to show gratitude for just how much richer the average person is today thanks to the Industrial Revolution.
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“In 1800, the average human consumed and expected her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to go on consuming a mere $3 a day, give or take a dollar or two,” writes economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey in her excellent 2010 book, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World. That’s in modern-day, US prices, corrected for cost of living. Apart from a comparatively few wealthier lords, bishops, and the odd rich merchant, people were dirt poor, barely subsisting, unable to afford luxuries like elementary education for their kids—who had a 50% chance at birth of not making it past the age of 30. That’s the way it was, the way it had always been, and as far as anyone could tell, the way it always would be.

More Than 16 Times Richer

But thankfully, things turned out a little differently. There are seven times as many of us on the planet today, but we’re many times richer on average, despite pockets of enduring dire poverty here and there. According to McCloskey, “Real income per head nowadays exceeds that around 1700 or 1800 in, say, Britain and in other countries that have experienced modern economic growth by such a large factor as sixteen, at least.” And this is a very conservative estimate of material improvement, not taking into account such novelties as jet travel, penicillin, and smartphones.

This radical, positive change brought about by the Industrial Revolution is the “Great Fact” about the modern world. “No competent economist, regardless of her politics, denies the Great Fact,” writes McCloskey. But it does require explanation, and here there are many theories. What caused it? Why did it happen where and when it happened—starting in northern Europe around 1800—instead of in some other place, at some other time? And although modern economic growth has at least begun to reach most of the world, including now China and India, if we had a better understanding of its causes, perhaps we could do a better job of encouraging it to spread to the relatively few remaining holdouts.

What changed, argues McCloskey, is the way people thought about markets and innovation and the people who were engaged in the business of making new things and buying and selling them. “More or less suddenly the Dutch and British and then the Americans and the French began talking about the middle class, high or low—the “bourgeoisie”—as though it were dignified and free. The result was modern economic growth.” In other words, the material, economic fact has a non-material, rhetorical cause, which is why economics can’t explain the modern world. Our ideas changed, and we started innovating like never before, and an explosion of innovation drove the rapid economic growth of the past 200 years.

What Didn’t Cause the Industrial Revolution

Bourgeois Dignity is the second book of a trilogy. The first book, The Bourgeois Virtues (2006), which I have not read but now plan to, argued for the positive ethical status of a bourgeois life. The third book, Bourgeois Equality, due out in 2015, will present the positive case for the claim that it is a change in ideas and rhetoric that made the modern world—and that ideas and rhetoric could unmake it, too. As for this second book in the series, it presents the negative case by examining the materialist explanations for the Great Fact offered up by economists and historians from both the left and the right, and finding them all to be lacking.

Imperialism, for instance, did not bring about the modern world. The average European did not become spectacularly wealthy by historical standards simply by taking Africa’s and America’s wealth. Imperialism did happen, and it did make a few people rich and hurt a lot of people, especially in places like the Belgian Congo. But it did not raise the standard of living of average Europeans, who would have been better off if their leaders had allowed trade to flourish instead of supporting the subjugation of people in foreign lands. Besides which, empires had existed in other times and places without bringing about an Industrial Revolution. A unique effect cannot be the result of a routine cause. And it cannot either simply be the case that wealth was moved from one place to another, because there is much more wealth per person today than ever before, despite there being many more of us around.

International trade did not do it either, according to McCloskey. Trade is a good thing, as imperialism is a bad thing, but its effects are relatively small. And extensive trade, too, existed long before the 1800s, in places other than Europe and the United States, without launching the rapid material betterment of all. And for similar reasons, it wasn’t the case that people began saving more, or finally accumulated enough, or got greedier all of a sudden, or discovered a Protestant work ethic, or finally built extensive transportation infrastructure, or formed unions, or suddenly started respecting private property, or any of dozens of other explanations presented by economists and historians over the years.

Respect for Innovation and Making Money

Only innovation has the power to make people radically better off by radically increasing the output produced from given inputs, and only innovation was a truly novel cause, to the extent that it was taking place on an unprecedented scale two hundred years ago in northern Europe. And the reason that it began happening there and then like never before was a change in rhetoric—a newfound liberty, yes, but also a newfound dignity previously reserved for clergy and warriors. For the first time, in the 17th and 18th centuries, it became respectable, even honourable, to figure out new ways of doing things and to make money selling those innovations to other people, and so innovation and business were encouraged, and much of humanity was lifted out of dire poverty for the first time in history starting in the 19th century.

Ideas matter. Supported by bourgeois dignity, and despite the betrayal of a portion of the intellectual elite as of around 1848, we have continued to innovate and make money and lift more and more people out of poverty. There have been significant setbacks due to communism and fascism and two world wars, but almost everyone is much better off today than anyone dreamed was possible just a few short centuries ago. In order to continue spreading the wealth, and the opportunities for human flourishing that go with it, we need to defend the idea that business and innovation deserve to be free and respected, as Deirdre McCloskey herself has so admirably done in this fine volume.

Bradley Doucet is Le Québécois Libre‘s English Editor and the author of the blog Spark This: Musings on Reason, Liberty, and Joy. A writer living in Montreal, he has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness. He also writes for The New Individualist, an Objectivist magazine published by The Atlas Society, and sings.
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