Boudreaux on the Progressive Mentality, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Source: Boudreaux on the Progressive Mentality, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

It’s been my observation that the Left dismisses the notion of spontaneous order in markets (hence, free markets are rejected), while the Right dismisses the notion of spontaneous order in biology (hence, evolution is rejected). Apparently there are those who believe the Left’s rejection of spontaneous order is more widespread than just markets.

Bryan Caplan would disabuse them of this notion.

But ultimately, I think resentment of markets has little to do with incomprehension of “spontaneous order.”  Key point: As Hayek emphasizes, markets are only one form of spontaneous order.  Others include language, science, fashion, manners, and even informal hiking paths.  In each case, individuals pursue their own plans with no central direction, yet a tolerably well-functioning social order emerges.  And leftists rarely express resentment – or even worries – about the social value of any of these.  So how can spontaneous order be the crux of the issue?

My preferred story is much simpler: Leftists look at the world of business and see greedy people leading and prospering.  This upsets people of almost every ideology if they dwell on it.  On an emotional level, human beings want people with noble intentions in charge.  Who then are leftists?  They’re the sub-set of humans who feel these emotions with exceptional intensity and durability – and accept a group identity that reinforces such emotions.  Why is a power-hungry politician who bullies strangers with big plans and pompous speeches more “nobly intentioned” than a greedy businessman who woos strangers with fine wares and low prices?  I don’t know, but clearly I’m in the minority here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s