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Words in Stone

(2009-10-26 12:34:50)
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杂谈

Words <wbr>in <wbr>Stone

                       ("Obey the Party", the 60th Anniversary of the PRC)

 

I thought they were words inscribed in stone, as dead as the Old Man behind; but they are words written in stone, as permanent as the Party ahead.

 

How does the supremacy thread itself into our everyday life, down to the level of these slogans? From “Obey the Party” to “Constructing a Harmonious Society”, these slogans change from time to time, but the supremacy always remains.

 

“Constructing” seems like a natural road to order or harmony, but it could also be a road to serfdom. “Constructing” implies planning, designing, and controlling, and all these deliberate activities call for authorities. For both Lao-Tzu and Hayek, a more natural road to order or harmony emerges from repeated interactions among individuals, not from conscious construction.

 

I am not naïve to believe in the spontaneous order and ecological rationality without reservation, but the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics certainly reminds me to keep doubting the efficacy of constructivism. With her lifetime work, Elinor Ostrom, one Nobel Laureate, examines a variety of different common property resources problems around the world and shows ingenious solutions emerging from people’s experiences and self-governing institutions, yet most economists thought these problems could be solved only by government interventions.

 

I am not saying that constructivists and ecologists are inherently in opposition, they can and do work together.  But “order by construction” is more easily accepted and shared, like common sense. When common sense assumes consensus, without being doubted and debated, “order by control” follows.  

 

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