So-called “conventional wisdom” is that government is necessary to ensure the functioning of society—that left free of the restrictions and regulations of government, society would deteriorate into violence and chaos. But this film features another worldview from Professor Aeon J. Skoble—the view that, left unimpeded, even competing entities in society find ways to cooperate to better the conditions of all.
Skoble is Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University in southeastern Massachusetts; he is also a regular contributor to LearnLiberty.org an online resource with a mission to teach about liberty and a free society. From the Website:
In this video Skoble attempts to offer some of those answers as he makes his case for the ability, even the compulsion, of society and the commercial sector to cooperate. His ideas contradict the conventional wisdom that, when left to its own devices, society will fall into a destructive and competitive norm.
To make his case, Skoble uses an anecdote of a man trying to get a free suit:
Of course the solution would be to simply go to JCPenney and get a “free” suit there. After all, Macy’s and Penney’s are competitors, so they aren’t going to share information with one another; otherwise they would lose a competitive advantage, right?
One view of the market place is that it’s a dog-eat-dog world of hostile competitors. So what could possibly explain Macy’s actions if that view is true? There is no explanation, except that both Macy’s and Penney’s and other supposed competitors have realized that cooperating (sharing information) is more productive than isolation and competition.
Skoble’s perspective is reflective of that of Ronald Coase, whose lifelong study of economics has lead him to believe that to fully understand economics it is critical to look beyond the theoretical. In our report Economist Coase Studies People, Companies, Not Abstractions, we wrote:
Skoble’s focus on cooperation exactly represents the emphasis that Coase believes is necessary to the evolution of economic understanding. More importantly, Skoble has given us a clear and precise example of how economies, when left to operate freely, will work cooperatively to find the best solution.