Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trust is the foundation of a liberal society

Building trust in others, and maintaining and reinforcing that trust in spheres of our lives that we've artificially (and often to ideological ends) designated as "public" or "private" is the heart of what Vernon Smith has called the "ecological rationality" of human society (as opposed to constructivist rationality which - while useful in certain endeavors - is limited in its ability to explain human social order).


  1. That reminds me of a piece in The Economist, contrasting general British public opinion on politicians during the Liberal era before 1914 and during the post-Blair/Major era.

    Although early British politicians could occasionaly be heard speaking privately with irritation about the general public and asking if there was a constituency available for them (as if it were a small favour to be handed out), the general public still treated them with unconditional respect, and believed they were due a certain amount of deference. In return, even those mildly cronyist politicians generally believed in some serious level of honesty and treating the public with respect as well.

    On the other hand, in post-1990s Britain, politicians are assumed guilty until proven innocent on many matters, and viewed with a sustain level of disdain, even while the level of government activism and public demands from government has risen since the Liberal era.

    It's strange - if the Liberal era involved people respecting government, even in times of a general belief in a very narrow scope of activism for the government, then modern Liberals are doing it wrong.

    Perhaps liberals, such as Lew Rockwell, should not be calling the likes of Ben Bernanke "janitors", but instead show some respect, if only for the sake of being taken seriously back in return.

    Manners, politeness, discipline,.etc and governance and administration are two very different topics. Yet, there is probably a correlation - mannered, polite societies are perhaps far more likely to liberal than those that are not.

  2. The more the state interferes with your life the more you pay attention to it. That in turn leads to some conclusions about the state; one being increasing distrust.

  3. Well, that and of course the more the state does the more it is has to lie to cover up for its snafus; state actors lie because they don't want to undermine confidence, at the same time though, people eventually notice the lies and incongruities and that in turn undermines confidence. Honestly, witness the parade of ex-politicos over the past decade who have condemned the War on Drugs when they were earlier staunch supporters of such.


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