The Insecurity of Efficiency

I saw this video on Chris George's blog and it is truly remarkable for its application of evolutionary psychology insights to our present society. Of course, Reason is going to favor arguments that make markets seem desirable and socialism undesirable. But the way in which evolutionary psychology and human scale play into this question can be extended in several directions. On the one hand, markets are good at producing material wealth efficiently, but they aren't good at making people feel secure and connected to their fellow man in the way our hunter/gatherer ancestors did.

You can either see this insecurity as a flaw in the human being or a flaw in the economic system that correlates highly to a right-leaning or left-leaning perspective on the human condition. But the core question remains: is an unfettered embrace of globalization sustainable from a psychological point of view? Markets are good at allocation and wealth creation, but if they hamper happiness and flourishing then they can only be said to be "working" in a very narrow sense.

Libertarians must not only educate people about market economics but also recognize the market's limits. A thick approach to libertarianism can, in fact, give us guidance on the kinds of extra-market values we must work towards - values which markets are utterly incapable of providing but which nevertheless determine the health of a society.

Written on Monday, February 21, 2011 | Tags: markets, evolution, psychology