From Status to Contract

the movement of the progressive societies has hitherto been a movement from Status to Contract 

Maine’s optimism about the inevitable march of progress is unfashionably whiggish and, I think, overblown.  But his understanding that progress necessarily involves freeing individuals from their status stations — freeing persons from stations assigned by circumstances such as skin color, family name, genitalia, sexuality, nationality — and thereby allowing individuals to determine as best as each can his or her own course through his or her own voluntary choices — that is, through contract — is smack-on correct.

Always worth remembering.

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