We tend to put those who place their faith in the market economy at the libertarian end of the political spectrum, as far away from us communitarians as you can get.
But… the fact is that the modern marketplace itself, properly understood, starkly demonstrates that no man is an island, and that we are profoundly interdependent in the modern world.
From an online post by Cato Institute researcher and editor Chelsea German, Sept. 25:
What would life be like without exchange or trade? Recently, a man decided to make a sandwich from scratch. He grew the vegetables, gathered salt from seawater, milked a cow, turned the milk into cheese, pickled a cucumber in a jar, ground his own flour from wheat to make the bread, collected his own honey, and personally killed a chicken for its meat. This month, he published the results of his endeavor in an enlightening video: making a sandwich entirely by himself cost him 6 months of his life and set him back $1,500. . . .
The inefficiency of making even something as humble as a sandwich by oneself, without the benefits of market exchange, is simply mind-boggling. There was a time when everyone grew their own food and made their own clothes. It was a time of unimaginable poverty and labor without rest.
We are light years removed from the society of totally independent yeoman farmers that Thomas Jefferson idealized. And personally, I would never have wanted to live that way, anyway.
I liked this parenthetical from the Cato post, which the WSJ left out:
(It should be noted that he used air transportation to get to the ocean to gather salt. If he had taken it upon himself to learn to build and fly a plane, then his endeavor would have proved impossible).
Kind of reminds me of that joke about the hubris of science:
God was once approached by a scientist who said, “Listen God, we’ve decided we don’t need you anymore. These days we can clone people, transplant organs and do all sorts of things that used to be considered miraculous.”
God replied, “Don’t need me huh? How about we put your theory to the test. Why don’t we have a competition to see who can make a human being, say, a male human being.”
The scientist agrees, so God declares they should do it like he did in the good old days when he created Adam.
“Fine” says the scientist as he bends down to scoop up a handful of dirt.”
“Whoa!” says God, shaking his head in disapproval. “Not so fast. You get your own dirt.”
Actually, the version I heard was more involved, with the scientist saying something like, “First, I’ll mine for the requisite minerals, and…” But the punchline was the same: “Get your own dirt,” or maybe “Make your own dirt.”
You get the idea.