And now Ritchie’s proving it

What did leap out towards the end of the book was this sentence:

The natural long term tendency of any eco-system is to become progressively more plural, complex, sociable.

This opinion does, of course, challenge the idea of some who think survival of the fittest might suggest otherwise. I strongly suspect Mabey is right: the evidence is all around us if only we are willing to look.

But that is not what economics is seeking to do. There is monoculture in our economy: a persistent belief that only the market can deliver and only material reward matters leading to concentration on a singular approach to decision making and so to the form in which society is developing.

We need an economy that is more plural, complex and sociable. It so happens that nature has worked out that this is the basis for sustainability. The economy we have is the opposite of that.

So, err, what is it that allows complexity in an economy? Plurality?

Yep, that’s right, markets. One estimate is that at any given time in Manhattan there are 1 billion separate and discrete prices. There is no possible method of achieving that plurality, that complexity, without the cooperation of people through markets.

There is also no method of political or economic management that allows greater complexity, sociability or plurality in forms of organisation than markets. Only that form will allow workers coops, customer coops, capitalist organisations, sole traders, partnerships and yes, the State itself, to rub along together.

He’s shouting about markets, the very thing that actually allows the thing he claims to desire.

9 thoughts on “And now Ritchie’s proving it”

  1. Talking of markets, there was an irritating interview on R4 this morning where a guy from Primark was asked by some Today person how he would like it working in Bangla for 10p per hour.

    The Primark guy babbled on about how they had to pay the going rate because workers in the same factory, but on the next line and working for another store, wouldn’t like it if Primark workers were paid more.

    Why doesn’t Primark (or the BBC for that matter) find out how much journalists are paid in Bangladesh?

    Indeed, why doesn’t someone find out if local BBC stringers in Bangla are paid the same as BBC stringers in New York?

  2. Interested

    It’s tough when you’re put on the spot – with the benefit of hindsight I think anyone who’d read, say, Lord Bauer’s work on Development Economics or for that matter even been on holiday to a Third World country like Bangladesh might be able to respond that a discussion of wage levels without reference to the price levels in the country in question is inherently meaningless.

    However, as you (Or it may be the equally excellent Surreptitious Evil – so apologies in advance if I’m naming you in error) often point out, it’s about instilling this simplistic narrative that ‘equality (of result) for all’ has to be the watchword. That’s the goal of Murphy, Toynbee, Jones, Monbiot, Hutton etc (indeed almost the Entire Staggers, Independent and Guardian Staff) – change the narrative so that the prevailing zeitgeist is this unthinking ‘reflex’ leftism – and they’re very good at it.

  3. ” There is monoculture in our economy: a persistent belief that only the market can deliver and only material reward matters leading to concentration on a singular approach to decision making and so to the form in which society is developing.”

    The most irritating thing here is that he’s complaining about a “monoculture” that hasn’t even been put to the test and he’s already passing judgement, yet his own tired old economic theories already belong in the dustbin of history waiting to be stamped down to make way for the next trash, it is a leftist disease that prevents admission of failure and then let someone else take the helm, for the likes of him to talk of evolution and progressiveness, let alone sustainability, whilst touting a brain-dead policy, is macabre in the extreme.

  4. This man’s stuff is so tortured – he’s comparing an ecosystem with the free-market. In other words, comparing the *product* of a rule-set (random mutation coupled with natural selection) with a rule-set (free-market interaction) and so his whole analogy fails, falls flat on its face.

    Just as we have complex living *ecosystems* (a host of organisms filling increasingly specialized ecological niches) due to evolution, we have a complex *market economy* (able to provide a whole host of products to fill increasingly narrow economic niches) due to free-market interactions.

  5. Runcie Balspune
    October 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm
    “The most irritating thing here is that he’s complaining about a “monoculture” that hasn’t even been put to the test”

    While I agree with you that his ideas have already been tested and failed – the free-market has *also* been tested and is responsible for a huge increase in wealth an quality of life. While it may need some refinement, its an already proven system.

  6. you have to wonder why leftard bloggers such as Chris Dillow and co do not make efforts to stop him contaminating their brand of “thought”, worthless though it is since it has been proven empirically lacking in so many different cases.

  7. You have to wonder why leftard bloggers such as Chris Dillow and co do not make efforts to stop him contaminating their brand of “thought”, worthless though it is since it has been proven empirically lacking in so many different cases.

    Chris Dillow can’t stop these idiots commenting on his own site, never mind in the world at large.

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