Dynamic Optimism and Spontaneous Order

The principle of dynamic optimism says: "don't just think happy thoughts; get off your butt and do something about them". The principle of spontaneous order seems to say: "optimal solutions will arise naturally and inevitably". At first, this seemed to me like a contradiction, but now I realize it doesn't have to be.

First of all, we are the self-sorting agents that make things happen naturally and inevitably. If i don't do project X, someone else may do a similar project maybe five years from now. That doesn't meen my work is irrelevant-- it's hastened history by five years.

This brings me to the second reason the principle of spontaneous order should not inspire apathy. Take a chemical reaction: let's say it can produce either product A or product B, and it releases an equal amount of energy in either case. Suppose it's product B we want. We're don't change the reaction, and we don't violate any laws of nature. We merely try to lower the 'energy hump' it has to overcome before a net release of energy can occur with the creation of product B. This is called catalysis, and it will shift the balance of the products toward what we want.

The enzymes in our bodies-- products of spontaneous order, you'll note-- make our survival possible in this way. Likewise, we can tweak society without actually interfering in the workings of the free market through some heavy-handed top-down regulation, and without really doing something that wouldn't have happened anyway. What movements (like this one) do is catalyze social processes, resulting in a greater yield of the desired product.

--Sincerely, Alex F. Bokov