Before I begin, let me do a quick recap of points just covered in recent posts:
First, the quote from Adam Smith in which he talks of how Legislatures can cause “the highest degree of disorder.” For my reader’s convenience, the entire quote is pasted below. The earlier post in which this quote appeared is here.
The man of system... seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chessboard. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chessboard have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chessboard of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.
Second, my post of yesterday titled “Why Rape Is Universally Condemned, And What This Universal Condemnation Of Rape Implies Towards A Correct Understanding Of "True Justice" - or Why Socialist Constitutions, Socialist Supreme Courts, Socialist Legislatures, Socialist Lawyers, Their Bar Councils, And Their Monopoly Over Legal Education Deserve The Very Same UNIVERSAL CONDEMNATION."
I will now continue on this theme:
Justice is “an attribute of individual conduct.” It is NOT something that comes from The State or any government; on the contrary, a system of justice exists only to ensure that whenever unjust actions are committed by any individual upon another, the victim is duly compensated. So, when a “wrong is righted,” Justice is done. This means “restitution” – not “retribution.”
The FACT that most people act justly is clearly evidenced in each and every overcrowded, bustling bazaar throughout India, where the unlettered throng to buy and sell millions worth of goods every single day without any “crimes” being committed, without any “paperwork,” and without any “policemen” in attendance to “maintain order.”
This “natural order” is PROOF of the fact that Property is a “mental category,” and it is this mental category that gives us all a “sense of justice.”
Thus, every unlettered passer-by recognizes the wares displayed before a street vendor as rightfully belonging to him, and if he desires some portion of these, he must arrive at a consensual exchange of properties.
This is the SOURCE OF ORDER – which is CONSENSUAL TRADES.
The fact that these are consensual means there are NO DISPUTES – which is ORDER.
It becomes obvious that legislative interference in the natural order is the source of “the highest degree of disorder” that Adam Smith wrote of.
The task of the true “social scientist” is not to legislate order to achieve some imagined “perfection”:
"Every collectivist assumes a different source for the collective will, according to his own political, religious and national convictions." Ludwig von Mises, Socialism
On the contrary, the true social scientist is required to merely “articulate” the laws that people are already following, like Property, Contracts, and Torts – which have come from the past, unlike legislation, which is always “new law.”
The laws of Property, Contracts, and Torts are all are being naturally followed – and the true social scientist is one who believes “laws are found, not made.”
I have already discussed Property as a mental category. Contracts are nothing but promises – as with debts. We regularly incur many debts in the market without paperwork – because the trader recognises our “creditworthiness.” To affirm, “One’s word is one’s honour” is very old morality – and it has naturally evolved into written contracts.
Paying compensation for damages accidentally or unintentionally inflicted upon another or his property is natural as well – for example, when a minor road accident occurs, and the fellow who caused it financially compensates his victim. That the assembled inquisitive crowd quickly disappears gives proof of the fact that all thought the act of compensation meant “justice had been done” and a “wrong had been righted.”
This is precisely what a “private law society” is all about.
Property, Contracts and Torts PROTECT individuals and all that is theirs, well into the FUTURE.
This is how the “mystery of capital” is solved.
This is how capital accumulation can go on and on till eternity, upon which civilisational progress depends.
Other extremely important gains for all of humanity that ensue from such a natural and “naturally legal order” are LIBERTY and PROSPERITY FOR ALL.
The inviolability of Property obviously means each is the King of his own Castle; that each farmer is perfectly free to grow whatever he likes on his own field; and that each shopkeeper is free to stock his shop with whatever wares he chooses.
This liberty also implies that each is free to defend himself and what is his from intruders – and if he has posted warnings to such intruders, he will not be liable for damages in torts in case he causes injuries to those who disregard his warnings and trespass.
Further, when each is perfectly free to sell whatever good or service he may choose to, to anyone who will be willing to purchase them voluntarily, then each and every Individual who succeeds in doing so – the chances of success are at their maximum with liberty, of course – will be possessed of the means to demand all other non-competing goods and services on the market. Market demand will be at its peak.
I trust I do not need to elaborate on how sound non-inflationary money will ensure private savings and investments will also be at their peak.
Thus, civilization will proceed at FULL GALLOP from here to eternity.
Before getting into what an “Open Society” is all about, allow me to now digress on some aspects of the mental category of Property in the trading human mind, since these have not been covered in earlier posts.
First: There is a vital difference between the “territoriality” of some animals and this mental category of Property embedded in the “trading human mind” – for the latter gives us all a “sense of gain,” which is why we “cooperate” and specialize in the division of labour, and survive by “serving the needs of others,” our customers.
Thus, we crowd ourselves into cities, we accumulate capital, and we build civilization – while the Alpha Male of any animal species survives in “self-sufficiency” on whatever “prey” may come his way, keeping out all other males of his species. They do not cooperate; we do. Theirs is the “law of the jungle” in which only the fittest survive.
Ours is not “survival of the fittest”; on the contrary, it is the “survival of all.” Market competition does not kill the relatively unfit – so, while the best singers and dancers may earn millions on cinema, television and live concerts, lesser beings can happily survive by performing in small bars, if Liberty prevails, of course.
A second – and very important – fact is that the “sense of gain” we possess is not just of monetary “economic gain”: we sense the gains of market cooperation through voluntary exchange based on specialization in two other ways.
First: We realize that cooperation in markets means we need to labour less individually, as others perform specialised labours for us.
Second, and more importantly: Each individual also realizes he needs less “hard knowledge” to survive.
Thus, a good guitarist in a modern city needs to know nothing else about anything, while a rustic villager requires to know the crops and the seasons, the pests and the predators, the building and repair of hutments, the care of animals and livestock, and so much more.
The more advanced the market economy gets – especially with the “international division of labour” in this modern age of high technology – the less we need to labour individually, and the less hard knowledge each of us needs as well.
It is completely against reason, therefore, that schooling has been regularly extended – from 10 years in the case of the generation preceding mine, to 11 in my case, to 12 years now. It is the “overburdening” of young minds. Anyway, almost everything is quickly forgotten after the examinations. It is but the exploitation of monopoly power by the State’s “education bureaucracy.”
And now, let us discuss the “Open Society.”
A successful market order is based on nothing but RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM, and has nothing to do with “group identities” like a “tribe” wherein each has to follow the orders of a Chief; or any “joint family” in which a Patriarch or Matriarch commands the rest; or a “community” – be that of shared religion, language, or race, led by some Great Leader, a Führer.
In the free market order, each Individual is responsible for his choices – and his gains or losses – to himself. He requires no permissions from anyone - which is precisely what LIBERTY means.
This is what Modern Capitalism is all about – the highest degree of Liberty, which means “freedom from all coercive acts by one’s fellows.”
“Each man for himself, each man by himself” is the motto of each free citizen of such a city.
This is Individual Rights, Individual Liberties, and Individual Responsibility.
The Great City is “cosmopolitan” – open to the world. This open, voluntary market arena where COMPLETE STRANGERS interact peacefully and gainfully is best termed a CATALLAXY – and I have written a brief column explaining this word and all it implies that I recommend.
Goa, for example, exhibits such characteristics – for they welcome tourists from all over the world. There are Hindus, Christians and Muslims in Goa – and perfect harmony prevails.
Tourism is the WORLD’S BIGGEST INDUSTRY.
And the HAPPIEST one, too.
“The more the merrier” is the motto of such open, cosmopolitan cities. To survive by “serving complete strangers” implies OPENNESS.
Trade and tourism – or internal discord, and external wars. You choose.
But to help you decide for yourself, let me remind you of the socialist-communist motto, “All for One and One for all,” as in the ridiculous assertion that “India is Indira.”
CONgress sycophants went about sloganeering thus during the Emergency: when all the “nationalizations” occurred, while a billion people were PROPERTYLESS; when her State forced sterilization of the citizenry; and when the State Trading Corporation went about purchasing old, imported cars from “diplomats” who were being transferred out, only in order to reap huge profits from rich Indians to whom these old, imported cars would be auctioned. This was the giddy height of TYRANNY as well as STATE SOCIALISM – when the State owned everything, even what it did not own; and when the State ran all businesses, while the people couldn’t. Indira Gandhi grew up on her father’s Discovery of India – a history book.
Let me also add that these “diplomats” – as then, so now – are not “trade ambassadors.” They are all “politicking” – in the pejorative sense of the word. Among them, those days, were the “economist” John Kenneth Galbraith, Kennedy’s Ambassador to Nehru, who abhorred American “affluence” – so he must have loved our poverty.
Galbraith is particularly famous for declaring, “India is a functioning anarchy.” He must have been referring to the State-owned roads, and not to the shackles on each and every economic activity, including especially foreign trade. Imagine calling all-round STATISM "anarchy"? NUTCASE!
About the British High Commission in Delhi, Peter Bauer recounts how a senior British diplomat here, when asked about BR Shenoy, replied that he thought this brave “dissenter” against Nehru’s USSR-style “heavy industrialization under State –ownership” was “MAD.”
Was this the “Cold War” era or what?
Diplomats selling their own used cars to the State Trading Corporation – and not making any “diplomatic efforts” to free foreign trade and open borders!
What will the WTO ever achieve – other than endless “diplomacy” and this kind of “politicking”?
UNILATERAL FREE TRADE is the one and only way out.
Of course, there will be many pseudo-moralists, hypocrites, chauvinists, religious fanatics, and other busybodies who will object and stridently denounce all the diversity an Open and Free Society exhibits.
But in a “private law world” there is no legal coercion they can inflict. In any case, they should not be allowed to do so privately – which is why Liberty must be defended, by the very individuals whose liberties are being threatened.
All I would like to add in conclusion are the following:
Happiness is “subjective.” So MY Favourite Things need not be yours. But Liberty must prevail – and neither of us should be able to impose his preferences upon the other.
It is NO CRIME to injure oneself. To injure others is a Tort, of course.
Judging others based on pseudo-moral grounds is abhorrent – for example, a casino is truly one of the “happiest” places to visit. Here, everyone is happy even when losing money! So whoever insists “gambling is evil and immoral” does not know “the joy of gambling” – or, indeed, that all human choices are, in truth, gambles. More precisely, they are “speculative” – for the future is always uncertain. To opt for a career in medicine, for example, may not end up giving you either happiness or wealth.
The wide diversity and experimentation in lifestyles that occurs in Open Societies are essential for PROGRESS – while regress and stagnation lie in rigid orthodoxies.
Progress lies in EXPERIMENTATION – by PIONEERING INDIVIDUALS, who alter their lifestyles, discard certain traditions, customs and conventions, and adopt others, all because of openness to other cultures and their mores. These individualistic “breaks from tradition” are precisely what cause progress. It is they who are called “unconventional.”
It is exactly to prevent such openness and breaks with traditions that Brahmins forbade Hindus till fairly recently from “crossing the oceans” – and we all look upon this prohibition as RIDICULOUS today.
Similarly, for whatever reasons, the West no longer exhibits “Victorian prudery.”
Morality also EVOLVES – and is another of those institutions of society that are “the product of human action but not human design.” Rigid orthodoxy prevents anything new from happening – which means stagnation and even regression.
The tyrannical and even nonsensical orthodoxies of the Hindu Brahmins of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were only challenged by the British – as with suttee – and this led to movements for “Hindu Reform,” beginning with the Brahmo Samaj of Raja Ram Mohun Roy, the acknowledged “Father of Modern India.” A “Prarthana Sabha” soon followed in Maharashtra – a province now headed the other way, for that is what the “politics” of the BJP and the Shiv Sena are all about.
It is well said that the TWO GREATEST TYRANNIES that anyone can impose upon another are:
First: “This is for your own good.”Second: “I speak in the Name of God.”
Taliban – they just beheaded 17 Afghan civilians, including two women, for dancing and partying, saying this is “immoral.” Will any society they "control" with their extreme and rigid "orthodoxy" ever PROGRESS - or will it REGRESS?
Do read the Babur-Nama to know what a fantastically LIBERAL society existed in Kabul during his years there - the 16th century. Seven languages were spoken - which is "internationalism" - and there were great PARTIES, wines as well as CHARAS were consumed, and poets were specially invited to recite their verse, which were highly appreciated by a "cultured" audience.
And we have the Vatican of old.
Below is a picture of Galileo.
Which means THINK FOR YOURSELF!