Thursday, February 5, 2015

Biting the Invisible Hand

Special Announcement: Due to illness, I am forced to modify my posting schedule for at least the period from Feb. 2nd until Feb. 15th, and possibly for a longer period (details will be provided if/when they become necessary).  Consequently, I am reducing the number of my posts to two per day and will be relying on audio, video, and re-posts to a much greater extent than normal during this period.  Thank you for understanding and for continuing to visit On Liberty Street!

That's part of the title of a new book out by financial and economic journalist Peter Foster in which he examines the various factors involved in the anti-capitalism mindset.  The Foundation for Economic Education sat down with him recently and discussed his new book "Why we bite the invisible hand: The psychology of anti-capitalism".  Here's an excerpt from that interview (after reading the interview, I bought the book):
The Freeman: What is the psychology of anti-capitalism and where does it come from?
Foster: I’ve always been fascinated at peoples’ lack of appreciation of, and sometimes outright hostility towards, capitalism — despite the system’s enormous achievements. I concluded that anti-capitalist sentiment is a combination of economic misunderstanding, moral condemnation, and political exploitation. My book describes a journey — both geographical and intellectual — to trace the roots of such thinking, or rather nonthinking.
The answer to the conundrum obviously has to be “inside our heads.” For me, the issue became clearer when I discovered evolutionary psychology. Its fundamental insight is that our minds were designed in, and for, an environment very different from that in which we now live. It was the face-to-face environment of the relatively small tribe, where everybody knew everybody else, there were no complex markets, no voluntary employment, no technological advance, no money, and no growth.