Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Conflicting Moral Traditions (5)

Private property, Exchange for mutual benefit, Individualism, Personal aims, Personal judgment, Tolerance of those who don't fit into the unselfish band or community, Tolerance of strangers, and Specialization to the point that gathering food was no longer necessary for everyone: all are behaviors and traditions contrary to the instinctive morality of the isolated troop.

Yes, there is some specialization within the communal society of a band, but not to the degree that is common in a trading society.

The morality and traditions - the rules - supporting the extended order of the macro-cosmos had to evolve by experience as some traditions enabled prosperity while others hindered it. Bands of humans with the right traditions would thrive and their populations would expand; other bands would adopt those traditions of behavior or suffer relative declines. Knowledge, ideas, and traditions are also traded along with goods.

The new morality and traditions, the macro morality that enabled the extended order of human interaction, enabled the vast creation of human wealth ultimately leading to the prosperity of the United States in the 21st century and support of our far greater populations than are possible with the social order of hunter-gatherer societies.

Yet we remain with our instinctive motivations, our longing for the socialism of the communal micro-cosmos.

The rules are very different:

Instinctive behaviors, morals, and traditions that make the micro-cosmos function
Group ownership of all things
Working to group ends
Wisdom and traditions of the group
Everybody works together
Troop self sufficiency
Distrust of strangers
Nonconformists expelled (to die)

Culturally-evolved behaviors, morals, and traditions that make the extended order function throughout civilization
Personal (private) property
Exchange for mutual benefit
Working to personal ends
Knowledge of the individual
Labor specialization
Interdependence with outsiders
Cautious openness to strangers
Nonconformists given specialized roles

Notice how the two are incompatible, almost opposites?

The wealth-generating extended order of voluntary human interaction cannot spontaneously develop if everyone or every group operates withing the rules of the micro-cosmos. Elements of the macro-cosmos - families, associations, individual firms, for example - may function very well with internal behaviors consistent with the rules of the micro-cosmos, but each element has to operate under the rules of the extended order when dealing with most other independent elements. Elements that apply the micro rules to dealings with outside groups will not be able to participate in the extended order nor share in the wealth that the extended order creates.

The extended web of human cooperation that extends world-wide did not begin to develop until the rules of the micro-cosmos evolved to facilitate interactions with the wider world.

On the other hand, a family, a church, or an individual firm cannot survive if its internal inter-human relations are not governed by the rules of the micro order. Another name for the rules of a successful micro-cosmos is "teamwork".

As Hayek wrote in his essay "Between Instinct and Reason":
‘If we were to apply the unmodified, un-curbed, rules of the micro-cosmos ( i.e., of the small band or troop, or of say, our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilization), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings often makes us wish to do, we would destroy it. Yet if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them. So we must learn to live in two sorts of a world at once’ (emphasis in the original)

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