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Very Good Sentences From Matt Ridley

April 15, 2010

Let society evolve:

For the first time in my life, I’ve seen a political manifesto based on bottom-up, emergent-property thinking throughout. Not like the old right wing, which wanted bottom-up for business and top-down for society. Not like the old left wing, which wanted top-down for the economy and bottom-up for society. Not like today’s Labour party, which wants top-down, authoritarian dirigisme for everything. Well, almost throughout. The Tories still seem to be thinking top-down on energy, marriage and a few other things.

Do check out the rest of his blog. I’ve only just keyed into it (which is named for his forthcoming book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves.) And yet–surprise, surprise–I think Ridley’s passion for bottom-up, emergent order is still too tame. I would add a couple more topics that nations inveterately use top-down management for–namely, controlling their size and demographic composition. Competitive governance fueled by a market for national rule sets would loosen things up a bit. No reason orders wouldn’t emerge at that level, either. But I suppose you have to start somewhere. Here’s another interesting post on emergent order based on a study of flock movements:

Right, so can we now get away from the absurd dichotomy between autocracy and anarchy? If you say you favour bottom-up, emergent solutions with nobody in charge, because that’s how both evolution and economic progress (and the internet) generally work, then then most people react by saying: well, somebody’s got to be in charge or you’ll end up with anarchy. No.



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