A Brief Note From Argentina On Spontaneous OrderSubmitted by Marc Clair on Tue, 02/12/2013 - 16:01
Good afternoon to all of our liberty loving readers across the land! As many of you may know, I spent the last several weeks traveling through Argentina and Uruguay. I make a concerted effort to travel outside of the country every year for several reasons, the biggest of which as a liberty activist is to just “get away from it all”. Leaving the country also helps to get some great perspective on how other societies function, and how their citizens view the world.
Many Argentinians, despite having a popularly elected, verifiably socialist President, have a generally skeptical view of government, largely stemming from the economic collapse of 2001. I will have a full report on the current goings-on with the Argentinian economy, and what we can learn from it, later this week. But first, a brief note from something I witnessed in the quiet town of Puerto Iguazu, which serves as the staging area for tourists looking to visit the spectacular Iguazu Falls.
While having dinner in the center of town, we noticed something strange about the 6-way intersection where all of the main roads leading into town came together: there were no traffic signals whatsoever. No lights. No stop signs. No “caution: crazy-ass six way intersection ahead” signs. Zero, zip, nada. By typical statist logic, the lack of a government intervention to create traffic lights and/or signs in this area would of course result in complete chaos. We should have seen cars ablaze and the mangled corpses of pedestrians everywhere!
But alas, there was no such chaos....
Instead, we saw an orderly procession of cars that, upon seeing an intersection coming up, would slowly approach while checking their surroundings for other vehicles or pedestrians, and cautiously proceed in their chosen direction. This is what F.A. Hayek referred to as “spontaneous order”. It is the idea that man, lacking a central governing body in any given area, will spontaneously create it’s own order out of self-interest. People generally do not desire to crash into other cars or run over pedestrians. Therefore, when approaching an intersection, it is perfectly natural for drivers to remain cautious and to orderly take turns passing through.