Aretae is ripping on pessimism – thanks in part to Matt Ridley’s book.
Libertarians like to view progress one dimensionally, just like progressives. However, each group uses a different dimension.
Progressives use social justice (for lack of better term) as their dimension. For example, today is better than the ’40s because black people couldn’t vote then, or something. If you disagree with progressives, you’re a racist.
Libertarians use technological progress as their dimension. For example, today is better than the ’40s because you had to get chicken pox, you couldn’t access the internet and it took a long time to do the laundry and the dishes back in the ’40s. If you disagree with libertarians, you’re a Luddite.
Yet can one study history and honestly conclude that there has no decline along any variable? For (a mainstream) example, we used to live in a country in which a guy like Thomas Jefferson could get elected president. Now, the finalists are John McCain and Barack Obama. Do you really see no decline? I don’t think it takes much to see the incredible fall in quality.
If you really believe that the quality of government in the US hasn’t declined in recent decades, you may be past the point of reasoning with. I freely admit that some things have gotten better, why is it so hard for libertarians and progressives to admit that anything might be getting worse?