Brussels Dispatch: Gaia and the catallaxy

I have been trying for some time to develop an analogy of the economy in familiar terms that all people can immediately relate to; and noticed that there is an automatic reflex, in considering the environment, that human intervention is such that many unseen and malignant consequences will follow from even an apparently innocuous activity.

Furthermore, and most importantly, people seem to truly understand that there is no such single thing as ‘the environment’ – it is the sum total of billions of tiny interactions, that without any central planning, holds itself in check; but with human intervention, the whole thing can be knocked into disequilibrium.

There would be the most unassailable victory for the laissez-faire movement if people learnt the same innate awe and reverence for the purity of the free-market as they now have for the purity of the ecology: actions cause unintended consequences, whose chaotic effects reverberate – and magnify in amplitude – far beyond the locale of the original intervention.

Austro-libertarians are the militant eco-warriors of the free market.


Here are the Opening words of the Wikipedia article on the Gaia Hypothesis:

In the ecological  sphere an act…[or] a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen.  The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen […].  Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa.Whence it follows that the bad environmentalist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good environmentalist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

Here are the Opening words of Bastiat’s Essay What is Seen, and What is Not Seen:

The Austrian Business Cycle Theory  is an economic  hypothesis proposing that the free market  and the temporal  components of the economy (structure of production, natural interest rate, savings rate and investment rate)  are closely integrated to form a complex interacting system that maintains the supply  and demand  conditions through means of the price mechanism  in a preferred homeostasis […].  The hypothesis is frequently described as viewing the effects of government intervention  as an immeasurable destructive consumption .  The Austrians  and other supporters of the idea now regard it as a scientific theory, not merely a hypothesis, since they believe it has passed predictive tests.

Okay, so I switched these two articles and changed the key words.