Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on August 18, 2017

in Complexity & Emergence, Myths and Fallacies

… is from pages 3-4 of the late Vincent Ostrom’s 1997 volume, The Meaning of Democracy and the Vulnerabilities of Democracies:

How people conduct themselves as they directly relate to one another in the ordinary exigencies of life is much more fundamental to a democratic way of life than the principle of “one person, one vote, majority rule.”  Person-to-person, citizen-to-citizen relationships are what life in democratic societies is all about.  Democratic ways of life turn on self-organizing and self-governing capabilities rather than presuming that something called “the Government” governs.

DBx: If a foundational assumption is that there is no society without the state – if it is assumed that society is created by the state – then the state, the creator, is assumed to be a secular god.  People who operate with this creationist assumption (and they are many in number) are naturally blind to the self-organizing features of human society.  These people do not see that society is created, not from the top by the conscious design of the state or of some sovereign power, but from the bottom by countless human actions and interactions.  For those who are blind to the true, emergent nature of society, the only ‘creative’ role that individuals can play is in choosing the identities of those who wield the state power without which, it is assumed, society collapses into chaos.  And those who operate with this top-down, creationist perspective are thereby skeptical of calls to limit the power of the state.

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