“One’s bearing shapes one’s fate” is attributable to the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, and despite its ancient origin, still rings true to this modern ear. And why not? One’s bearing in life can make all the difference as to one’s imprint upon the ever-changing world. Questions of how we traverse the flux of human society are of paramount concern to any person who takes the task of civilization seriously. This being said, it is unfortunate to see a vast number of people who profess a love for humanity advocate actions that betray the potential for widespread wealth and happiness.

Some of these people are well-meaning and simply mistaken or confused; some are merely clever parrots squawking-out memorized nostrums; some are downright oblivious, barely lucid dolts; and some (a special, wise, and popular bunch they will have you know) prey upon and exploit the well-meaning, the confused, the mistaken, the dumb, the downright oblivious, and the barely lucid dolts out of their desire to dominate others for their own ends. Whether they are true believers in their own power laden ambitions or pragmatic technocrats on auto-pilot, the ruling caste of society and their apparatus, the state, is predicated upon a cycle of violently compelling people into conformity through threat, action, and spectacle.

No matter how you spin it, the purpose of the modern nation-state has succumb to coercively molding you and I into compliant subjects of authority. Our lives are not own. And “we” do this in the name of loving peace, prosperity, and human rights!

With this bearing in mind, modern varieties of the nation-state have expanded into almost every aspect of human life under the pastoral auspices that enlightened public servants need to protect the people from the chaotic free-market failure. Thus, the state is needed to “create a platform;” to provide a military; to monopolize the production of money; to build roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals; and to protect industries and interests who supposedly hang by a thread in the onerous and oppressive winds of competitive capitalist change.

It is especially this last charge that is most absurd: that the state needs to intervene as the great stabilizer, the great anchor, or the great organizer of the free market because the market is just too damn productive! A liberated economic order creates so much wealth and opportunity, it’s downright destructive!

Though this “creative destruction”[1] as brought about by a free-market economy is often demeaned  by statists as an unfortunate consequence of rivalrous capitalist competition in need of being checked by state predation, this process has undeniably brought about a vast boon to humanity’s general condition. Having “destroyed”[2] many poverty and privilege stricken societies of old, the people working through the magic of the free-market will continue to destroy hunger, sickness, ignorance, and poverty in general.

Indeed, technological innovation and competition does displace certain industries and jobs as consumers’ preferences change, but this displacement opens up new opportunities for entrepreneurial activity. I think Robert Higgs has it right when he writes creative destruction is the best game in town,[3] but I would like to go beyond his sober reminder of how “loss” plays a key role in economic calculation and say the process of “creative destruction” is in fact an emancipating, beautiful process worthy of critical praise.

Why? Because this process is not only practically true but also harmonizes with a basic libertarian moral bearing that is beautiful both in its simplicity and audacity: human beings should not prey upon other human beings.

At their root, discussions surrounding the process of  creative destruction are arguments over the effect of change upon human beings and how to respond to such changing conditions. What is often left unsaid is that change is inevitable for humanity no matter the prevailing economic order, as individual human life (and by extension human society) requires varying actions to be sustained over time in a world of scarcity. To illustrate the point, even if one’s bearing was to bring about a “static” society unaffected by meddlesome market entrepreneurs, one would still have to work over time to sustain such “stability.”

Say a young man decides he prefers a socialist order over a free market order and would like to help bring about the type of change he sees fit for society. He then must become a political entrepreneur where he competes with other politicos for state power whilst always and everywhere seeking to destroy free market entrepreneurs with said power.

Using the language of creative destruction, the difference between our precocious young socialist and his market competitors is the manner in which they “destroy” their competition. The market entrepreneur destroys by offering an opened hand and peaceful persuasion. He must win over his customers voluntarily by providing an excellent good or service. In contrast, the political entrepreneur destroys by threatening a closed fist and setting red lines of conflict. He receives his revenue through the invasion, intimidation, manipulation, and seduction of other people.

Is it not clear who is actually destroying his fellows here?

As said above, when we talk of “creative destruction,” we are discussing the effect of change upon human beings and how to act in response to such changing conditions.

So, there are some question you must ask yourself: no matter what goal you seek, how would you choose to go about accomplishing your heart’s desire? Or more generally, what are the most moral, effective, and peaceful ways of fostering human flourishing?

If you choose the bearing of a liberated economic order, the free market, and allow the price system to operate uninhibited, people will be able to glean incredibly complex information about the world and act accordingly to make good their actions to bring about a profit rather than a loss.  Under a system governed by political diktat or State intervention there is no way to calculate economically (or at least such an ability to calculate is diminished,) and thus what will ensue is an inevitable loss: a destruction of wealth for humanity in general and an increase in coercive state privilege and exploitation.

Beyond these utilitarian concerns, the type of change promoted by a liberated economic order is a peaceful and cooperative change that respects human dignity by eschewing aggressive violence in all its forms including the institutional violence propagated by the state. It is an order that allows economic knowledge to flourish through free-exchange so that there will be more opportunity, more prosperity, and an enduring peace.

It is a spectacular process, this anarchy; the mother, not the daughter of order.

Actually, I speak too soon. That depends on one’s bearing.

I guess my northern star, my love, my longing for a beautiful anarchy has been revealed.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction

[2] http://mises.org/daily/2982

[3] http://blog.independent.org/2013/08/28/creative-destruction-the-best-game-in-town/