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May 26, 2015


Rob Vico

You use the concept of spontaneous order a lot in your posts, so I'm wondering how you would respond to this criticism of it.


I feel like spontaneous order is a bit like the term natural, in that people use it to make distinctions that aren't really there.

For instance, many things are called unnatural when they are human made, but humans themselves are a product of nature. In the same way, a dictatorship is often considered the opposite of a spontaneous order, but dictatorships are the result of lots of people, supporters and non-supporters of the regime, making everyday decisions. A person can't control another group of people through sheer force of will alone.


«reporting is in fact heavy with ideological bias. This is often inadvertent: I doubt FT subs last night thought "how can we help to glamourize bosses?"»

I doubt that very much applies in general. As to the FT their version may be "how do we pander to our likely readers?"

But anyhow newspaper editors in general are pretty ruthless in communicating which kind of ideological stance they want journalists to have by various indirect means like firing and hiring and bonuses and promotions to encourage "aligned" journalists to stay and "unaligned" ones to disappear.
Good journalists smell the air and follow spontaneously the prevailing winds.

It is a bit like academics and endowed chairs or funding: some crass idiots like the Koch promise funding and endowments to univerity with explicit conditions attached, but cleverer ones just work the incentives.

For example Ken Lay of Enron had a programme to endow 35 (thirty five) professiorial chairs in various universities in the USA, most of them in *accounting*. Of course any deparment head with a bit of sense will never promote to professor someone whose work will push away potential rich donors like Ken Lay, and most academics have the good sense to understand how to avoid work that repels potential endowed chair donors, and eventually attracts rich consulting contracts from corporations. The "aligned" academics then get much more successful and recognized.

As to how "directed" are newspapers (and not just those who received "partisan" talking points memos) my eyes have been opened over the past year or two by the shameless outright lies (and many more misdirections) about Russia, which have appeared with very similar points and even words in newspapers across the polical range and of course on the BBC, and even in the papers or interviews of some academics. Obviously not by chance.

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