In the below article (see section II.) entitled Rich Man, Poor Man, I have come across the term "enculturated", which I find very useful in throwing light on certain social aberrations that only a rich and modern society like ours would seem to be capable of. Notably, the construction of poverty from the resources of a society of unprecedented wealth. To be sure, poverty here is not - as Marxists erroneously argue - a condition of wealth creation. It is the other way around, wealth is used to carve out and maintain poverty.
The piece is well worth reading in its own right, which I stress as it has triggered ideas in the present writer (see section I.) that lead away from the central concern of the recommended article.
I am also interested in another challenge contained in this historically unique phenomenon of using high levels of material potency to create, refine, and perpetuate maldevelopment.
It is a feature of the freest societies ever known in history. It does not seem to occur in societies substantially lacking in freedom.
I am mentioning this aspect not to mock and decry liberty, but to appeal to friends of liberty to view the development and state of liberty in terms more sophisticated and differentiating than the black and white patterns of a murder ballad.
In fact, there is enculturated deficiency - enculturated intellectual, even moral poverty, if you like - to be observed in the freedom movement, too. It is fostered by cliquishness, regurgitation, intellectual vanity or laziness, and the rest of the we-enhancing we-versus-them simplifications to be found in all political factions. For more see my Politically Correct Nourishment - Too Much and Too Little Economics.
Freedom is the freedom to deviate from freedom and to experiment with her possibilities - no, this is not an egregious statement, as even libertarians disagree amongst each other, thus multiplying perceptions of freedom and unfreedom, not to mention free people of other persuasions. For these reasons alone, freedom will always be accompanied by a large measure of social reality rather uncongenial to liberty.
After all, the whole point of liberty is to create scope for dissension and to foster an n-pronged approach to overcoming or accommodating and, indeed, creating disagreement.
Still, many libertarians seem oblivious to the irremediable presence of vast grey zones characterised by contested, undecided or undecideable questions concerning freedom in free societies. A chief reason for cutting out the grey is a stubborn belief in an impossibility: the solution of all human conflict by way of market transactions. The truth is, however, that politics is more fundamental, more foundational to any human society than economics, let alone an economy based on the political achievements of a free society. Politics is muddling through to find a framework for interaction - economics is a form of interaction, a lower-level phenomenon.
There is not even a super-libertarian authority at hand that could settle the thousandfold quarrels among libertarians on whether the gold standard is good or bad, which version of a gold standard might be desirable, whether central banking by this or that principle (John Taylor) is in order, or rather currency competition without a gold standard (Frank Schäffler), or a gold standard precluding currency competition à la Hayek (Detlev Schlichter), and so on. Whether libertarian or not, we are bound to work out solutions without the benefit of an arbiter in possession of absolute truth.
The task of the supporters of liberty is to tackle maldevelopments one by one - including those within the various schools of freedom -, rather than sweepingly and habitually condemning society at large in the name of some perfect freedom that is in principle not attainable.
The fact that freedom even in our countries is ubiquitously imperfect, endangered, and violated in countless ways, does not warrant the frantically indignant conclusion - the typical posture of many libertarians - that we do not live in an epoch of unprecedented freedom but in an era of eschatological gagging, and that freedom will only ever prevail when all these attacks on freedom and all of her defects are removed. No: freedom is naturally incomplete and will always be. She is an ingredient in a necessarily mixed order.
An attitude of libertarian perfectionism can only lead away from feasible freedom and turn the libertarian into an intolerant zealot, who might argue with Sheldon Richman and many other libertarians:
[l]ibertarians differ from others in that they apply the same moral standard to all people’s conduct. Others have a double standard, the live-and-let-live standard for “private” individuals and another, conflicting one for government personnel. All we have to do is get people to see this and all will be well.
For the source and context of the quote and more, see my Richman's Credo.
As for specific maldevelopment in an area rightfully targeted by the freedom-conscious, I encourage you to read Ed Stevens' challenging article Rich Man, Poor Man in which he draws attention to the
problem of enculturated poverty, participated in willingly and unapologetically by millions and millions of our citizens.
I have, rightly or wrongly, always been deeply suspicious of political pontifications about “poverty”. I grew up among people who usually had no cash money in their pockets for days and weeks at a time … folks who would chuckle sardonically at the profligacy of actually painting a barn, or spending good money for store-bought bread or milk … yet none, absolutely none, of those people would have been comfortable with being classified as under some government-devised poverty level.
Make sure to read the entire piece.
See also Private Education for the Poor.