This essay argues that liberty generates progress via the generalized increasing returns to commercial activity. These increasing returns to expanding commercial activity follow from the gradual, cumulative process of institutionalizing particular liberties. As a society adopts an institutional framework from accumulated liberties, there is greater scope for productive specialization and social cooperation under the division of labor. Greater scope for market exchange also delivers social norms and commercial values that tolerate experimentation and innovation. Taken together, the accumulation and institutionalization of liberties gives rise to generalized increasing returns to commercial activity. It is through this cumulative process that the creative powers of a free civilization are unleashed, delivering societies from poverty and subjugation.
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