The Law of Nature, Part 8 to blupete's Essay
"The Siren's Song"
How are we to get at and solve the large social problems faced? It is an open question. What can be said, is that these problems will not be solved through the operation of a central committee. At the best of times, and with the best of members, and only if it be a simple matter, is it possible to lend a directive hand. In regard to economic matters, the missing material needed for the proper deliberations of the committee is a continuous stream of market data; committees do not have this stream of data; nor do they have the means, even with the most sophisticated computers, to deal with it; and, even if the billions of mystic levers and buttons revealed themselves, the committee would not know which ones to pull and to push, when to do it or in what sequence, or with what results: -- its an impossibility. The simple answer to those who have the conceit of thinking they can set up and run a centralized economy by committee, is: "You have no idea of what drives an economy; it is driven at the roots by people who know their own wants and needs; and who, each of them, the millions, have the wherewithal to satisfy themselves by planning, and working, and trading; and, more generally, by learning to accommodate, and to learn, and to get along with their fellow human beings: all of this, so that each might satisfy their own particular set of wants and needs." Laws impinge on the essential ingredient of progress and of civilization and to the extent that laws are necessary, they must be certain and applicable to all.
The ultimate price we pay for collectivism is that democracy is docked and liberty is lost; the law of the jungle creeps back in with the final result being that there appears more human misery then ever there was before the collectivists first set in motion their freedom crushing machinery.
The only argument of those who advance the cause of collectivism, is that the human species is fundamentally evil and they need to be controlled, else we will all go about greedily taking things from one another; be nasty to one another: It is, -- these faithless collectivists assert -- in the nature of man to be thoughtless, greedy and cruel. If this be the reason for putting on the controls of collectivism, then the question must be asked: Who are going to be the controllers? Who are we to put in charge? And the answer is, the same evil and greedy men from whom the collectivists wish to save us.
I do not advocate sitting around and doing nothing; but, likely all that is available to us, is, as Karl Popper put it, "social midwifery." None of what I have said should be construed as giving up the "systematic fight against definite wrongs, against concrete forms of injustice or exploitation, and unavoidable suffering such as poverty or unemployment;" but such a fight "is a very different thing from the attempt to realize a distant ideal blueprint of society." And always, we must be aware of "an accumulation of power, and to the suppression of criticism."
History, particularly, of the earlier ages will tell of the growth and maintenance of our customs and traditions. History of the last two hundred years, however, will show the deterioration of customs and traditions that took a long, long time to develop; it will show that this deterioration came about on account of man's meddlesome ways and in his interference with a natural process in attempting to impose his rationalistic views on the suitability of customs and traditions; attempts which have done nothing but impede, or reverse the process of man's cultural development, and have brought about untold burdens of human misery.
We must fear those who demand the use of force in order to substitute their own inclinations for those of the human race; we must fear those who desire to set themselves above mankind in order to arrange, organize, and regulate it according to their fancy; we must fear those who think only of subjecting mankind to the philanthropic tyranny of their own socialistic inventions; we must fear those who desire to force mankind docilely to bear a yoke of the public welfare; we must fear those who proceed, always, on this triple hypothesis: the total inertness of mankind, the omnipotence of the law, and the infallibility of the legislature.
[Essays, First Series]
[Essays, Second Series]
[Essays, Third Series]
[Essays, Fourth Series]