Monday, October 08, 2012

An interesting juxtaposition

On the one hand, we have Allen Small, Minarchy vs. Anarchy and the State:
The libertarian view of anarchy coincides with the concept of spontaneous order. That concept describes how the unhindered the free market operates by imposing its own rules on itself, such that there is a "spontaneous emergence of order out of seeming chaos." . . . My background teaching biology made it very easy for me to accept spontaneous order in economics and society. Anyone that has ever studied biology will know that organisms, be they plant, animal or protist, live within "self ordered" ecosystems.

Just a little bit earlier, we have Chris Clarke, an actual scientist: The Balance of Nature [link fixed]:
One of the things that bugs me most about some of my fellow environmentalists, aside from the patchouli, is the near-religious adherence — even among those enviros who eschew religion — to the notion that natural ecological systems have an innate and emergent self-repairing property. It’s a dangerous idea that breeds complacency, and it’s really widespread. . . .

Here’s the thing: people really, really want to believe that ecosystems are self-repairing, because that way we can excuse the fact that our very existence these days seems to rend that hopefully self-healing fabric.

I don't think Small, however, will let the facts or truth get in the way of his self-serving opinions.


  1. Larry, both links point to the same article. Is this what you intended?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. How effective emergent order appears has a lot to do with how far away your standing.

    All of biology is emergent order (unless you're going all ID on me), and is self repairing, remarkably so. We'll burn up every mole of carbon, pollute our water, etc... In 100 years, we'll live in a sweltering toxic junkyard. Later, the environment will self heal. In another billion years it'll be difficult to tell we were even here.

    In the same way, markets cause all sorts of terrible stuff. A company comes in, destroys a local community's resources, then scoots away. In the scope of a global economy, it makes little difference. Your pencil gets .0001 cheaper, which means more food for someone somewhere, etc...

    Free market zealots tend to make appeals like this as kind of a just world phenomena appeal. It's easy for them to forget about the small communities that paid dearly. It's easy for them to measure GDP growth and not see the people trampled underfoot.


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