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There’s nothing quite so conservative as a lefty

Summary:
The Guardian treats us to a long read from an Adrian Daub on the subject of that Silicon Valley buzzword, disruption. The attempt is to discuss capitalism, creative disruption and how this all works. The attempt working about as well as we might expect given the source:Adrian Daub is a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, and director of the Michelle R Clayman Institute for Gender StudiesYes, well. It’s not impossible for that academic background and those specialties to provide insights into the economy but we’d not say that it’s obviously a good starting point. There are some good quotes from Schumpeter and so on but the underlying argument has a fatal flaw in it.For that argument complains about capitalism undermining the settled order and so

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The Guardian treats us to a long read from an Adrian Daub on the subject of that Silicon Valley buzzword, disruption. The attempt is to discuss capitalism, creative disruption and how this all works. The attempt working about as well as we might expect given the source:

Adrian Daub is a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, and director of the Michelle R Clayman Institute for Gender Studies

Yes, well. It’s not impossible for that academic background and those specialties to provide insights into the economy but we’d not say that it’s obviously a good starting point. There are some good quotes from Schumpeter and so on but the underlying argument has a fatal flaw in it.

For that argument complains about capitalism undermining the settled order and so on. Which isn’t the point at issue at all. Free market capitalism is a good way of gaining the thing which undermines the settled order, that’s true, but it is not the thing itself. The thing itself being technological change.

Unless, and until, we realise that these other things - capitalism, markets, creative destruction, disruption - are proxies for that technological change, or possibly methods of gaining it, we’re not going to get to the heart of the matter under discussion. If we desire technological stasis then yes, abolishing free market capitalism is a great way of preventing the creative destruction and disruption, by banning the system that best encourages that technological change.

But who actually desires that? Well, William Buckley told us:

A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.

Again, the tag, the name, we generally put upon it is just the proxy. The argument against disruption is one in favour of technological stasis. The argument against that free market capitalism, because creative destruction, is the intensely conservative one that technological change should not happen, we should cease to use the best manner of gaining it. Which isn’t a very good economic nor social argument, is it?

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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