Friday, June 21, 2024

Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, coined the term meme to refer to a unit of information that can spread through a community via learning or imitation the way a favored gene is replicated through reproduction. Just as egalitarianism and resource- and risk-sharing memes were favored in the prehistoric environment, the selfishness meme has flourished in most of the post-agricultural world. Even so, no less an authority on economics than Adam Smith insisted that sympathy and compassion come to human beings as naturally as self-interest.1

The faulty assumption that scarcity-based economic thinking is somehow the de-facto human approach to questions of supply, demand, and distribution of wealth has misled much anthropological, philosophical, and economic thought over the past few centuries. As economist John Gowdy explains, ‘“Rational economic behavior’ is peculiar to market capitalism and is an embedded set of beliefs, not an objective universal law of nature. The myth of economic man explains the organizing principle of contemporary capitalism, nothing more or less.”2

Fourth Way

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