[OPE] Hayekian insight

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Tue May 26 2009 - 04:53:11 EDT

"Living in that artificial construct, a free society, and regarding the
regulation of price by supply and demand as something akin to a natural law,
it is difficult for us to visualise the economic processes of primitive
communities. Their essential feature is a sort of rationing system that is
not egalitarian but hierarchical; you are allowed three strings of beads if
and when you are entitled to wear them. Consumption is both conspicuous and
mandatory and its primary purpose is to express rank. The communists have
partly reverted to this system in protest at the destructive effects of
laissez-faire economics, but the price of re-tribalization is liberty.
Conversely, the liberation of the individual from the social mould was the
dynamic behind the seventh century upsurge of the Aegean peoples. In
contrast to the towns of Mesopotamia which had no market places (Herodotus
again, confirmed by archaeology), the agora was the recognized centre of the
Greek city. With a fistful of coins and an eye for the main chance, the
individual had arrived in history".

- Colin McEvedy, The Penguin Atlas of World History, 1967, p. 54.

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