Radical or Gradual Reform?

By temperament, I am a conservative. By conservative, I mean that I believe that society and institutions are difficult to change successfully, and that, in general, things are better left alone. Having said that, I do believe that radical reform is much more likely to be successful than incremental. To my mind, the chances of fixing a fundamentally, broken system by making a series of small changes is low. Now, I find myself in the happy situation of having my prejudice in favor of drastic reform confirmed by a scholarly study. In a study of the effects of the civil reforms imposed across Europe by the French Revolutionary armies, four economists have found that in those areas where the most drastic changes were made from past practice, the greatest economic growth subsequently occurred. You can find a good summary of the study at The Economist’s View in a post titled The Consequences of External Reform: Lessons from the French Revolution.

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