If only the first were in operation, humanity would have advanced far more rapidly. We'd now be enjoying living standards we won't reach until 3000 A.D. to 4000 A.D. We'd be making regular trips to our solar system's planets (and exploiting them) and possibly to the stars beyond. But the other aspects of man's nature act as a continual brake on progress. ... our negative propensity to find reasons--especially moral or scientific ones--to oppose the creative forces in the world. A primary example of this was the mid-19th-century reaction to the capitalist Industrial Revolution. Just as a disruptive and painful period of capital accumulation was coming to an end in advanced economies such as Britain's--wages were rising, working hours decreasing and factory conditions improving--along came thinkers like Karl Marx, who argued that capitalism was an unprecedented threat to human happiness. They succeeded in setting up a collectivist counterforce to capitalism that maintained itself intellectually for a century and at one time controlled nearly a quarter of the world's surface area, killed scores of millions and wasted untold trillions of dollars of wealth. This force was not discredited until the late 1980s, when Soviet Communism began to collapse and its Chinese cousin embraced capitalism.And now the lawyers:
During the 20th century a series of revolutions in technology again made it possible to accelerate the production of wealth and improve the ways in which it is distributed to reach even the poorest enclaves of the world. But once again the negative critical and destructive forces have combined to put the brakes on and, if possible, reverse this process. Clever people calling themselves environmentalists, human rights campaigners, tort lawyers, etc. have played on fears and superstitions and employed ingenious arguments based on science and pseudoscience to mount a counteroffensive against capitalist advances. They have used the courts, media, international conferences and laboratories--all with enormous cunning and effrontery--to win many partial and some absolute victories. One of their biggest successes has been to halt the building of nuclear power plants in the U.S., Britain and other countries. This has seriously increased the destructive impact of the oil shortages brought on by China's and India's industrialization.