Posts tagged Creationism

Re: Socioeconomic Creationism


Lots of intelligent redistributionist socialists argue along the same lines; it’s not that they don’t understand how markets and spontaneous orders work; they simply don’t care ….

Right, which is why they don’t provide a good example of someone who falls back on government causes of poverty by explanatory default, either. Their position is wrong, but not because they (like biological creationists) fail to understand the concept of spontaneous self-organizing systems.

Serious Marxist theory, for example, actually involves quite sophisticated use of the concept of spontaneous order in explaining the emergence, sustenance, internal conflicts, and ultimate collapse of the capitalist class structure. (The idea is certainly not that all the evil capitalists got together in a big meeting and made a big plan for taking over the world and exploiting the workers. Any serious Marxist theorist would very quickly trash a theory like that as a form of “utopian socialism” and a case study in “bourgeois individualism.”) Of course, most of serious Marxist theory (as well as Cohen’s egalitarianism) is wrong, but it’s wrong for reasons other than being somehow “creationist.”

There are lots of people who do fail to get the concept, but they’re mostly concentrated among the most vulgar of vulgar Marxists, and the usual lot of nativist pseudo-populists, economic conservatives, and Social Democrats who take up most of the space in mainstream American political debate. None of whom, as far as I can recall, have ever leaned much on the government as a supposed cause of poverty or socioeconomic inequality. (Conservatives who make the typical conservative arguments against AFDC/TANF and other forms of government welfare may be an exception; but they don’t claim that urban poverty is being caused by deliberate government efforts to create it. And they rarely say that poverty as such is caused by government action. They take urban poverty as we know it more or less for granted and then claim that government welfare programs make it worse.)

Re: Socioeconomic Creationism

For example, if some have much more wealth than others, the socioeconomic creationist believes that this is the product of government policies specifically designed to transfer wealth from the many to the few, rather than the natural result of market transactions between people of disparate abilities and preferences.

Well. Isn’t it empirically true that there are specific government policies which, either through design or through unintended consequences, tend to profit the rich, hinder and impoverish the poor, or do both at the same time? If you doubt it, I can name some examples.

Can you think of any actual examples of people who fall back on the claim that poverty is substantially caused by government policies, rather than by voluntary market forces, who do so because they’re simply unable to understand how spontaneous orders work? Every proponent of such a claim that I can think of (Kevin Carson, Roderick Long, Brad Spangler, Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Gabriel Kolko…) is relatively clear on the notion of spontaneous order; they get to the conclusion that government policies cause poverty not by explanatory default, but rather because they can point to a bunch of concrete examples of government policies that really do this.

In my experience, most of the real “socioeconomic creationists” with regard to wealth, tend to attribute poverty to tightly coordinated conspiracies (“international bankers” and the like), or else to the personal greed and vices of individual business people, not to structural factors like government policy.

If the average man makes more than the average woman, the socioeconomic creationist concludes that this must be due to the misogynistic oppression of women, rather than the natural outcome of men and women having different preferences, opportunity costs, and/or abilities.

You seem to be presupposing that “misogynistic oppression of women” and “spontaneous order” are two mutually exclusive explanations of the situation. But why make that claim? There’s nothing in the concept of a spontaneous order that requires that all spontaneous orders be benign. It may be that if certain kinds of ignorance, folly, or vice are widely distributed throughout the population, then lots of little individual acts of stupidity or evil will, without the design of the participants, add up to a large-scale, malign spontaneous order that goes beyond the intentions of the participants.

“Preferences, opportunity costs, and/or abilities” aren’t the only factors that can contribute to the individual decisions from which a spontaneous order emerges. And not all “preferences, opportunity costs, and/or abilities” are independent of prevalent prejudices and traditions, either.