Why Economics, Choice and Tolerance are Inseparable
Originally posted at LibertarianCenterForTolerance.org
People often place issues in two categories, namely ‘economic’ and ‘social’, which apparently have no influence on one another. But I contend a world with a more robust and competitive economy would also be a world of greater tolerance. Many social and caste divides are born out of economic scarcity – out of a demand for a reason to justify taking more of the economic pie for “us” and leave less for “them”, because the sentiment is that there isn’t enough for everyone.
If anything, history, I think, shows pretty clearly that wealth is more abundant when more of us cooperate and compete with each other to provide value (aka, the free market) instead of competing over limiting market access to others (protectionism/regulated markets/no markets). These divisions, over time, get ingrained in the culture of these arbitrary groups and can lead to generations of resentment, hostility, and sometimes violence, which is why a focus on robust free market policy is an imperative for wealth building, but also social cohesion (if you are prosperous, you’re less likely to resent other people for being prosperous, or try to prevent them from being so).
So, essentially, economic performance will make people more tolerant of one another, which in turn improves economic scale. Essentially, any discussion of promoting tolerance can’t be separated from people’s quality of life, which is partly determined by the wealth, and partly determined by internal factors which often come from people’s ability to pursue their interests and attain property. As people’s quality of life drops, whether from losing their economic (wealth) or autonomous (choice) means to pursue their goals, they begin to look for scapegoats to blame.
Bottom line: A libertarian worldview which focuses on empowering people’s economic opportunities and individual choices, is the formula to having a more tolerant socially cohesive society.