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« One Last Time with Gusto: Bush Lost the War! | Main | Obama's Mencian Themes »

January 19, 2009


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Reading the excerpt from Ridley the first things I noticed were the mentioning of the wonders of 'bottom up' as opposed to 'top-down' and the strange -- in this context -- use of the word 'dirigisme'. This set off alarm bells. So I googled this Matt Ridley. Sure enough the alarm bells were signaling my worst fears. Ridley's no Taoist. Ridley is a Market Fundamentalist.

As much as some M-Fers (pardon the pun) want to believe, these two philosophical outlooks are not the same.

Thanks for the comment.
I agree that Daoism and Market Fundamentalism are different outlooks. Daoism would eschew any sort of fundamentalism. But there are certain resonances, I believe, between Daoism and markets, insofar as Daoism embraces something like a "laissez-faire" orientation. I have discussed this here and here.

Thank you for the post and links in your comment. Your post and the comments in the links were very interesting. I'll add that the resonances only exist if one assumes laissez-faire Capitalism needs no intrusive social and political systems so that laws of ownership can be enforced. This, of course, is not how Capitalism works. As someone else pointed out (you?) having no social and political systems to enforce ownership laws is more like Anarchy, not laissez-faire Capitalism.

This enforcement power is an easy tool that can be used by the currently rich and powerful to manipulate the system in their favor. Laissez-faire means there are no (or very weak) countervailing forces that influence the economic system. This leads me to believe that laissez-faire Capitalism would not mean a less intrusive government in general as Taoist thought recommends. In practice, it would lead to a system where the government -- meaning those who really have power and can exercise control -- consists of a small group consisting of the upper echelons of corporate management, wealthy rentiers, and big finance. Examining corporate structures and the corporate work environment one can see that these people will not govern like a cook should cook a small fish.

A simple question -- from ideas stolen from other posters -- that may shed light. Would a world where Capitalist virtues are primary really be similar to a world where Taoist virtues are primary?

We do have creation myths...盘古,伏羲,女娲,etc.

Yes, these stories are cosmogonic. But, the argument goes, they do not play a role in Chinese cosmology as determinative as the creation myths of, say, Christianity and Judaism play in Western culture. This is, Mote and Ames and other argue, something that is quite distinctive about Chinese philosophy.

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