Best Organized Spontaneously from Below

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So half way through reading Matthew Ridley’s new book The Evolution of Everything I come across a perfect distillation of the background meta-narrative of the JPGB in the last paragraph of Chapter 13:

The elite gets things wrong, says Douglas Carswell in The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy, ‘because they endlessly seek to govern by design in a world that is best organized spontaneously from below.’ Public policy failures stem from planners excessive faith in deliberate design. ‘They constantly underrate the merits of spontaneous, organic arrangement, and fail to recognize that the best plan is often not to have one.’

Out here in AZ- a central planner’s K-12 nightmare of Wild West chaos-since the bust of 2007 we’ve had NAEP gains between 2.5 to 7 times greater than the national average. What passes for a consensus on Newtonian mechanics back east will struggle to explain this- something is wrong with the orbit of Mercury! Best perhaps to ignore outcomes entirely- as the New York Times did in an article this summer about AZ K-12:

Arizona in particular has been crippled by several years of targeted cuts at the state level and local voters’ repeated refusals to raise property taxes to offset these shortfalls.

Thank you for your  touching concern NYT, but I’m feeling pretty handi-capable about right now. I know states with budget cuts and dysfunction in central command are not supposed to make nationally enviable academic progress during a very trying period. We alas didn’t get the memo out here in the patch so we went and did it anyway.

Oh and by the way Arizona style austerity of the 2007-2015 variety may make a nasty appearance in a state near you in the near future. Feel free to pop out and take some notes on how to thrive through it- and yes you can bring your golf clubs.






3 Responses to Best Organized Spontaneously from Below

  1. Greg Forster says:

    Nominee for post of the year! Well done. Although let’s not go overboard on spontaneous order – human decision making requires clear and fixed general rules, and those come from above, not below (contrary to the apostles of spontaneous order). There are, in fact, things we need elites to do – not plan outcomes but clarify and enforce a better set of rules that protect people’s ability to govern themselves. Yes I’m talking about school choice!

    • matthewladner says:

      Agreed- someone has to put the mechanisms in place that is allowing Arizona parents to match the interests and desires of their child with schools. The inherently decentralized process of matching children with schools based upon their interests and aspirations is going on at the level we see in Arizona today in large part due policies that require creation, improvement and defense.

Leave a Reply to Jay P. Greene Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: