Front Page Titles (by Subject) Reason and Progress - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
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Reason and Progress - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Reason and Progress
“H.T. Buckle: The Liberal Faith and the Science of History.” The British Journal of Sociology 27 (September 1976): 370–386.
The nineteenth century British historian H.T. Buckle pioneered in historical sociology. His reputation has undeservedly declined because of his adherence to free trade and his classical liberal belief in an individualism of the kind espoused in J.S. Mill's Liberty. Among his contributions were his combining the statistical method and findings of the social sciences with history, and his insistence on the paramount role of ideas, knowledge, and freedom in explaining human progress.
A key interdisciplinary conflict which has dominated the social sciences for at least 130 years is the controversy of whether man is a mover or is moved. Encompassing such issues as free will versus determinism, behavioral psychology versus humanistic psychology, micro versus macro economics, and methodological collectivism, this debate still lives and rages. Buckle is of interest because of his grandiose attempt to straddle both sides of these dichotomies—to fuse historical idealism with historical materialism.
Beginning with the same evolutionary, materialist, and rationalist premises as Marx, Buckle developed his own thought in a radically different direction. Under August Comte's influence, Buckle rejected Marx's view of history as a class war of conflicting interests, preferring to consider it as an intellectual clash between “the priest and the rational sceptic, between theology and science.” In Buckle's multi-volume History of Civilization in England (whose first volume appeared in 1857), the hero was the spirit of intellectual scepticism, the villain was the spirit of government protection. His History's dominant theme was the parallel liberation of the economy from government and intellectual life from the Church.
Traditional historians labored to assimilate the sociological laws that Marx and Comte claimed to have discovered. What of the autonomous individual if science had discovered laws governing the behavior of societies and groups? Here Buckle advanced historical sociology by asserting that ideas were both nurtured in material factors and yet continued as the determining historical causes. Buckle's wedding of historical idealism and historical materialism won his popularity with nineteenth century liberals who simultaneously admired Mill's Liberty and the evolutionary “science” of history.
The physical circumstances of climate, food, and soil determined the original accumulation of wealth and thus the materials chances for intellectual development. But intelligence itself was the decisive factor in mankind's progress. Intellectual progress nurtured the power of the pacifist middle classes and sapped the authority of the military classes. Progress waxed or waned with the amount of knowledge possessed and developed by individuals and the freedom allowed in disseminating and applying that knowledge. Buckle's insistence on freedom as a safeguard for intellectual progress made him a strong opponent of government protectionism which he judged a primitive roadblock to progress.