Arnold Kling  

John Locke's Wager

Quote of the Day... The Sixth Warmest Year...

David Brin writes,

the quasi-Confucian social pattern that is being pursued by the formerly Communist rulers of China seems to be an assertive, bold and innovative approach to updating authoritarian rule, incorporating many of the efficiencies of both capitalism and meritocracy.

This determined effort suggests that an updated and modernized version of hierarchism might succeed at suppressing whatever is worrisome, while allowing progress that's been properly vetted. It is also, manifestly, a rejection of the Enlightenment and everything that it stands for, including John Locke's wager that processes of regulated but mostly free human interaction can solve problems better than elite decision-making castes.

I like the phrase that begins with "John Locke's wager" as a characterization of the case for markets.

Brin is the author of one of my favorite books, The Transparent Society. The quote above is taken from a long, interesting essay on the prospects for radical technological change. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the pointer.

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COMMENTS (2 to date)
Shamus writes:

My feeling is that Locke still wins his wager if matters are confined to the economic sphere. The main virtue of democracy is that it alleviates problems of leadership succession. So long as people have economic freedom, they may not really need political freedom. The three factors necessary for properity are political stability, free markets, and the rule of law. Chinese leaders seemingly provide two out of three, which isn't bad.

Bisaal writes:

"elite decision-making castes." ?
Castes in the sense of not-marrying with commoners?

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