Sunday, August 16, 2015

When Government Colonizes Different Spontaneous Orders

There are a variety of spontaneous orders. We too often only think of the economy as a spontaneous order, but there are also the scientific order, the philanthropic order, the philosophic order, the religious order, the democratic order etc.

I believe that each of these orders provide things the other orders absolutely cannot. This is why I oppose the colonization of the economic order by the democratic order. That colonization is called socialism. Socialism only involves the takeover of the economic order, or catallaxy. It does not involve the colonization of any other order.

Of course, colonization can be complete or incomplete. If the economic order is completely colonized, we have socialism; if it is only partially colonized, we have various degrees of interventionism. This is true of all orders, though for the sake of clarity, I want to deal with only complete colonization.

The colonization of the philanthropic order by the democratic order is known as the welfare state. When an area of philanthropy is colonized by the democratic order, we call that "crowding out."

The colonization of the religious order by the democratic order is known as theocracy. The same is true in reverse.

The colonization of science by the democratic order would mean that all science is being done in government-run laboratories. The goals of science would be predetermined by the government. This would be known as "socialized science." Michael Polanyi famously argued against this taking place.

The colonization of our educational institutions by the democratic order is known as public education.

The colonization of the health/medical order by the democratic order is known as "socialized medicine." 

The colonization of the monetary order is known as central banking.

Too many people are a little fast and loose with the term "socialism." Properly understood, socialism only involves anything in the catallaxy. This can include sub-areas within the catallaxy, such as medical provisions, meaning that if we have socialized medicine, that would be socialism applied to a particular area of the economy/catallaxy. But not everything is involved in the catallaxy -- nor should it be. I don't know what we have terms for the catallaxy colonizing other orders, but I would suggest that it would be as problematic as having the democratic order colonizing everything.

Thus, the colonization of philanthropy by the democratic order is not socialism. The philanthropic order is not part of the catallaxy. These are two quite separate orders, and rightly so. The arguments for and against the government colonizing either the catallaxy or the philanthropic order are and ought to be completely different. I would suggest that confusing the two only harms the arguments being made by those who argue against socialism. Further, too many who really favor an extensive welfare state think they favor socialism. They don't. Or, they don't necessarily. The two can be separated. The two are separate issues. And I think it would benefit everyone -- libertarians especially -- if they understood these distinctions and didn't mistake everything for being in the catallaxy.

I mean, suppose the democratic order decided to colonize the artistic order. Now all poems would be produced by government poets on topics determined by the democratic order. Is that socialism? No. But it's probably a recipe for a whole lot of really bad jingoist poetry.
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