DL, this made me think of you in the Gold Standard thread:
http://mises.org/daily/4707Two major features of the [environment of evolutionary adaptedness] are of interest here. First, it was a zero-sum world. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived on whatever was provided by nature. There was effectively no economic progress — certainly not during a person's lifetime. One person's consumption came at the expense of everybody else's. With little specialization, production, or property, the scope of trade was minimal. Societies were basically small, egalitarian communes. Second, the EEA was characterized by reciprocal exchange, not market exchange. Reciprocal exchange is the receiving and returning of favors, e.g., sharing my kill with you on the understanding that you'll reciprocate in the future. Zero-sum thinking and the logic of reciprocal exchange form the core of our intuitive economics.
Who knew Socrates was such a mooch?
Or that the Taoists were the first great libertarian/anarchist thinkers?Socrates felt that life's ideal goal lay in the search for "virtue," understood as disdain for material wealth, and specifically, entrepreneurial profit. Socrates seized every opportunity to boast of his poverty and to idealize the supposed virtues of the totalitarian state of Sparta, which at that time represented ideals opposed to those of Athens. In fact, in his defense speech, he outrages the jury by proclaiming that his services to the state of Athens were so many that instead of being tried, he should receive a life pension paid for by everyone (in the form of food financed by the city for the duration of his life!).
Lastly, it is very interesting to note that, during the same era when classical Greek thought was being forged (from the 6th to the 4th century BC), ancient China saw the beginnings of three great currents of thought: that of the so-called "Legalists" (who supported the centralized state), that of the Confucianists (who tolerated it), and that of the Taoists, of a much more liberal bent and extremely interesting for historians of economic thought. Chuang Tzu (369–286 BC) goes as far as to say that "good order results spontaneously when things are let alone." In his criticism of the interventionism of rulers, he describes them as "robbers." Also, according to Rothbard, Chuang Tzu was the first anarchist thinker in history. In fact, Chuang Tzu wrote that the world "does simply not need governing; in fact it should not be governed at all."