Hayek and Gould

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on artists who can serve an anthropological function by observing and “analyzing” contemporary culture (now that most anthropologists neglect this opportunity), see a remarkable book:

Gould, John. 2003. Kilter: 55 fictions. Winnipeg: Turnstone Press.

As a follow-up to the post 5 days ago called “From Cultures to Markets,” in which I observed why anthropology needs economics with this remark

But there was a problem with the notion of culture. It encouraged anthropologists to suppose that order is, as it were, grammatical, that it comes from a shared code of ideas and rules. And we know that very little of the order of First World cultures happens this way. Most of this order comes from the interactions of parties who are multiple, various, competitive, and sometimes contentiousÂ…parties, that is to say, who have very little in common and almost never a shared code. Merely by agreeing to a few, simple ideas (and nothing so sophisticated or embedded as a code), these parties can engage with one another. This order is, as we say, emergent. It is not code or culture based. Parties can interact without much sharedness and that they come away with their differences intact.

This means two things: first, that the anthropologistÂ’s great theoretical mainstay will not serve them in the First World as it does in traditional societies, and, second, they must visit the disciplines that understand order that obeys an “invisible hand.”

Here is Hayek:

What the economists understood for the first time was that the market as it had grown up was an effective way of making man take part in a process more complex and extended than he could comprehend and that it was through the market that he was made to contribute “to ends which were no part of his purpose.”

Hayek, Friedrich A. 1948. Individualism and Economic Order. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 13-14.