One of the reasons why the Industrial Revolution — which is to say, modern civilization — first rumbled to life in Britain rather than in Spain or Germany was the secret unruliness of the English, seemingly one of the world’s ruliest peoples. A combination of happy historical accidents and cultural predisposition meant that Englishmen were relatively free to pursue their own economic ends; even in the late medieval period, England did not have anything so strict as the German guild system or serfdom as intensely enforced as French villeinage. The American colonists regularly flouted laws purporting to regulate trade and manufacturing, and the Crown wisely looked the other way. (Until it didn’t, at which point it got a fight and lost.)

The division of labor is the essence of civilization, the underlying source of practically every good thing about the material conditions of the modern world. It is why civilized countries do not have famine any more, why we are surrounded by technological wonders, why things like air travel and mobile phones go from being restricted to millionaires to being ho-hum over a short course of years. Most of the technological ingredients for the Industrial Revolution had been in place not only in Britain but in Spain, France, Italy, etc., for years. But British subjects and American colonists had the opportunity and the inclination to begin a finer and more robust division of labor than did their European counterparts. They were just a little bit more free — and a little bit more determined to be free — and that little bit made an incalculable difference, not only to them, but to the world.

They built something remarkable. And the idiot children of the Left are today cheering those who would literally burn it down, in Ferguson and elsewhere.