I'd like to think that there are certain consistencies within the nature of man, which upon careful examination, can help to determine under what circumstances man is most likely to flourish.
Enlightenment writers were attempting to perform this examination.
Each society, in fact, does the same. The differences we observe from one group to another reflect the differences in methodology used to approach the question. We might say that some societies have certainly come closer to full discovery than others as evidenced by the degree of dignity reflected in the men of that group.
We may continue to compare the various circumstantial and historical narratives which have brought various societies to their current positions, but this leaves us without a first cause.
We must examine the nature of man and decide what he is.
I submit the Misesian story: man is first and foremost an actor.