Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Who You Know, Care, Respect, and Spontaneous Orders

"People are libertarian towards those they care about and respect. They are paternalistic toward those they care about but do not respect. They are authoritarian toward those they neither care about nor respect." -- unknown

"People are unbridled free marketers towards people they don't know (foreigners just need more money and skills!). They're crony capitalist/economic regionalist/nationalist towards those who live or work in their communities (inducements are fine if it means helping my group or the groups closest to me!) . And they're socialists towards their family, themselves, or other loved ones (please save us!)." -- Kyle Trowbridge, Facebook post

I think both of these statements are generally correct. What, then, do we make of the fact that they seem to contradict each other?

I would argue that the first set of statements is true for weak bonds, and the second set of statements is true for strong bonds.

Strong bonds are the kinds of social bonds we find in families, small organizations, and tribes. They are the social bonds with which we are most familiar and, for evolutionary reasons, most comfortable.

Weak bonds are the kinds of social bonds we have had to evolve as we started to live in larger groups, most notably and particularly, in cities. The Great Society is impossible without them. Spontaneous orders are pretty much constituted of weak bonds, even if they are populated by strong-bond groups. Cities, communities, counties, states, and nations are all weak-bond groups.

Note that Trowbridge's formula goes from weak bonds (people they don't know) to stronger bonds (communities) to the strongest bonds (family, et al). The weak bonds strongly suggest free markets. The first quote, though, applies to philanthropic feelings. You can apply each of them to each of Trowbridge's categories:

Care about + respect + don't know = free markets
Care about + do not respect + don't know = welfare state
Don't care about + don't respect + don't know = authoritarian state

Care about + respect + communitarian feelings = cronyism
Care about + do not respect + communitarian feelings = welfare state
Don't care about + don't respect + communitarian feelings = communism

Care about + respect + family = authoritative parenting
Care about + do not respect + family = authoritarian parenting
Don't care about + do not respect + family = abusive parenting

The latter triad leaves out "permissive parenting," which may suggest some missing element in each. I invite people to make suggestions.

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