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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from Deirdre McCloskey’s “penultimate” contribution to her Pairagraph exchange – titled “Milton Friedman and the Liberal Promise of Broad Prosperity” – with Binyamin Appelbaum:

Mr. Appelbaum says, “the marketplace is not a state of nature.” Yes it is. All humans trade, from about age eight on. The earliest evidence of trade comes from the Blombos Cave in South Africa, 70,000 years ago.

The market, he says, “is an artifact of society.” Sure, but so is art and language and journalism.

“There is no ‘spontaneous order,’” he asserts—with sneering scare-quotes against the absurdity of the very idea that free adults could accomplish anything without coercion—as though art and language and journalism were not also spontaneous orders.

“Markets must be constituted, the rules must be enforced,” by implication, by a state. Wrong again. Markets arise as spontaneous orders on the analogy with language in all societies, in prisons, in medieval market fairs, in the rough justice of exchanging books and snow-blowers and cups of flour among neighbors.

DBx: A great deal of misunderstanding – such as that in which Appelbaum is mired – springs from the simple failure to understand the reality and complexity of social orders that are (to use Hayek’s summary of Adam Ferguson’s phrase) “the results of human action but not of human design.”


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