Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Xenophon Special: My Basic Philosophy of Statecraft

Markets of sufficient size grow some means of defending themselves: we call these things armies, police forces, paramilitary groups, gangs, the mafia...

Immune systems for the body market.

Markets that have evolved these violent appendages bloom with corresponding means of protecting their functioning members from their own violence: courts, laws, systems of justice...

States are especially interesting businesses: they possess a local monopoly on the use of force. This is their primary product: violence.

Like a restaurant, whose primary product is food, the peripherals still matter. Liberals want the French Laundry, Conservatives want Denny's, Libertarians want an Ice Cream truck, (Statists want a public school lunch - for everybody...or else).

Over time a market's immune systems will learn how to deal with more and more threats to the market, but each new defense comes with a corresponding maintenance cost. 

It may be the case that the fall of complex societies is the result of a sort of market-wide autoimmune disorder; the more mechanisms you have in place to defend the market, the more chances there are for something to go wrong, and for the immune systems to turn against the markets that sustain them.

The Xenophon Special

Force and Markets and Statecraft go hand in hand in hand; The Xenophon Special is my way of making sense of it.