Everywhere we look we are surrounded by orderly systems that arose spontaneously and continue to operate in the same way. The universe, regardless of how it started, operates according to rules that no matter their complexity are knowable and fixed. The laws of physics are unchangeable; it’s our understanding of them that’s subject to alteration. Unless you posit an intelligent designer, the universe and all its components operate under rules that rose on their own.
Many human characteristics obey rules that arose spontaneously. Consider language. Every human society has a complex language. Each of these languages is spoken or signed (or both). They have complex grammars which are internalized by native speakers who usually are not able to fully describe the rules they observe. These fluent speakers may even be unaware that such rules exist. All languages have dialects which also have their own rules. While there are regional differences within a language there is general agreement about the grammar and pronunciation that should be used when the standard version of the language is written or spoken.
For example, every native Italian speaker knows that the accent in tavola (table) is on the first syllable in contradistinction to the general rule that the accent falls on the penultimate syllable as in parola (word). Is there a rule that governs the eccentric vowel stress? Of course there is. An Italian linguist explained it to me in two densely written single spaced pages. I immediately forgot it. She’s likely one of no more than six people who knows the rule. It arose spontaneously and is observed by 60 million Italians who are oblivious to the rule they assiduously observe.
The great economist Frederich Hayek was also a sociologist. He observed that society was constructed on a large number of rules that its members observed without being conscious of their existence. Much earlier Adam Smith introduced the idea of an invisible hand guiding the operation of a free market such that the unrestricted interplay of supply and demand produced the best outcomes for society. Of course every government and influential business has done its best to impede the operation of Smith’s appendage. Smith was well aware of the near universal propensity for rent seeking.
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices…. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less to render them necessary. Wealth of Nations 1776
Hayek also realized the mischief governments could impose on their citizens when they intervened to oppose the spontaneous order that the free exchange of labor and goods engendered. He explained what were the problems of a centrally directed economy. The interactions that comprise the economy are virtually infinite. No one person or group of people can have even the dullest appreciation of the forces that move and influence it. This lack of awareness seems to have no inhibitory effect on those who think they know how to drive the economy and who have the power to move it. Every country since the consolidation of the nation state has eventually debased its currency as soon as it had the means to do so. Today the world’s central bankers seem intent on invoking the ruin of its populace. The United States as in most things is leading the way to fiscal catastrophe by spending unfathomable amounts of make believe money on projects supposedly designed to promote the general welfare.
What the congress is doing is transferring wealth from the poor to the rich while proclaiming the opposite. The Cantillon Effect was promulgated two centuries ago. First postulated by the Irish-French banker and economist Richard Cantillon, it says that when new money enters the economy those who get it first prosper the most. Thus, when the federal government spends money it doesn’t have – ie, it prints it – the bankers, large corporations, the stock market, etc do very well. By the time it filters down to the average person inflation has eroded its worth such that its value has been degraded. Hence the statement that money printing is a transfer from the poor to the rich. This effect, at least in part, explains the seemingly incongruous alliance between the socialists and the corporatists.
Screwing up the economy has a long and appropriately checkered past. What’s new is the planned destruction of the rest of society led by two classes of people. The first are the true believers who seek to remake the country into some sort of ill defined utopian nightmare along the lines described by Lewis Carroll and George Orwell. They are in the minority, but have occupied key positions in the academy and journalism for about a century. Start with Woodrow Wilson and John Dewey and move right along until you get to Bernie Sanders and AOC. The second, and far larger, group are the witless souls who have been to college and read The NY Times and its ilk. These are the folks Lenin had in mind when he described those who would sell him the rope with which he would hang them. The useful idiots.
The confusion over gender, pronouns, the role of the police, equity, race, people as categories rather than as individuals are all decoys to confuse people as to the real purpose of the former group. Their aim is to overthrow the foundations of the USA and replace it with a centrally directed system which will eliminate personal liberty which is the child of spontaneous order.
If your goal is the denial of freedom and the establishment of autarky you couldn’t have found a better event than COVID-19. Serious as the disease was, it was made worse by the disproportionate fear created by the government at all levels. People willingly gave up their individual rights in an effort to contain the disease which only threatened a part of the population. Having seen how easy it was to control the world’s denizens the would be autocrats pushed for ever increasing top down government. Whether the liberties and ideals that founded and engaged this country for two and a quarter centuries will emerge from the current economic, political, and medical derangements afflicting the body politic is uncertain. Imposed order may be the deformed child of today’s disquietude.