Is Immunity a Case of Rothbard’s Lost Knowledge?

by Jeffrey A. Tucker
The American Institute for Economic Research

Murray Rothbard’s wonderful History of Economic Thought opens with a blast against what he called the Whig theory of intellectual history. It’s a variant of the Victorian-era idea that life is always getting better and better, no matter what. Apply it to the world of ideas, and the impression is that our current ideas are always better than ideas of the past. It rules out the possibility that there is lost knowledge in history, peculiar incidences when humanity knew something for sure and then that knowledge mysteriously went away and we had to discover it again.

I’m writing this under a five-month near-global lockdown for fear of a new virus. And just today, a major epidemiologist in the UK, Raj S. Bhopal, dared say precisely what my mother said at the outset of this disease: the way we must manage it is to develop natural immunities to it. Yes, he said the taboo thing: people who face no fatal threat need to get it. This is precisely what my mother told me back in February.

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