Order Without Commands
Spontaneous order keeps the wheels of society turning without the need to issue commands from the center. A free society is orderly not because people are told what to do but because the evolving traditions and inherited institutions of human society allow individuals to pursue their own ends and by so doing, meet the needs of others. People’s behavior follows certain patterns because they have been accepted by society initially as they allowed the groups that adopted them to prosper. It is no accident, said Hayek, that the sharpest differences in material welfare can be seen throughout the Third World where the city meets the countryside and complex rule-guided societies meet intimate communities in which the rules are different.
The rules that allow a complex social order like a city or the global economy to function are not orders in the sense that term is usually understood. Rules that prevent individuals’ injuring others or engaging in theft or fraud or breaking promises in fact give people a great deal of latitude in their behavior. They tell people how to do things, but they do not tell them what they should do….[More…]