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Three memes about economic thought and capitalism ...



Will McVay said…
I have to take issue with your last one, at least depending on your definition of "capitalism". If we're talking about "free market capitalism", which I will concede has never been fully realized in practice anyway, then your other memes essentially require that to be the ideal economic system because nothing else is capable of the same kind of adaptation as a system that is anathema to systemic coercion. Circumstances, as you say, are always changing and every other form of economic organization serves in some way to entrench established interests beyond what just "economic activity" in the market would otherwise support. I will concede that without "data" I'm making a philosophical statement here rather than an empirical economic one, but it is only "philosophical" in that it is accepting many of your premises and applying logic to them. You single out "capitalism" as being obsolete but your premises are equally if not more damning to every other economic system. They were all first described by dead economists, but chaos theory and Moore's Law and all the other stuff basically amounts to no one really being able to credibly issue prescriptions for how economic activity should be organized even on the scale of a small community due to the number of factors no one could fully account for any the inevitable changing circumstances it would have to adapt to. The advantage of free markets, as conceptualized by libertarians, is that people have no coercive "big bad" to blame for their circumstances outside their own choices in how to adapt to the reality they're presented with and very few restrictions on what they may choose to do to deal with it. There are multiple parallel and divergent and contradictory efforts to adapt rather than one large effort possibly in the wrong direction. Every other system involves coercive efforts at coordination based on imperfect or even incorrect information that may change without warning and beyond that system's ability to adapt.
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