Friday, April 3, 2015

Euvoluntary Exchange vs Doux Commerce

In the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair. But Gollum and the Evil One crept up and slipped away with her
-Actual lyrics from the Led Zeppelin song "Ramble On"

Ash nazg durbatul√Ľk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatul√Ľk, agh burzum ishi krimpatul.
-Inscription on the One Ring from JRR Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring.

ITN, a journalist out trolling for inflammatory comments stumbles on a podunk mom-and-pop pizza joint and asks the woman behind the counter—get this—if they'd be willing to cater a gay wedding. The woman behind the counter says "no." The story gets published. All hell breaks loose. Somehow, even this guy gets involved:
Austin Kasso is, according to his Twitter profile, "23 years old. Founder & Executive Director. Check out our Fund-a-Farm Urban Development project at [URL omitted]." Mr. Kasso was caught making a specific threat, one that probably (though it's up to the justice system to decide one way or the other) lands pretty squarely in the "unprotected" bin of the 1A exceptions, and now he's drawn the ire of a totally different mob, one that as of the time I post this, has poured half a million dollars into a GoFundMe project.

You might be wondering by now why I haven't included links to relevant articles and suchlike. My reason is fairly simple: this episode is contemptible. The whole thing is shameful and it's far worse for being a pustulent chancre symptomatic of a greater illness wracking Western commerce.

"What illness?" you ask, innocently, coyly even, brushing aside a lock of hair to peer coquettishly into my narrowed eyes. Good question. Let me digress with a little public choice economics.

Back up a little, squint your eyes, and see the Platonic form of bureaucracy. An elite interest wants something done, and they lack the resources to see to it themselves. A mandate is drafted, experts are hired, and badges issued. The principal checks back up on the agent once in a while, but they usually lack the in-depth operational knowledge needed to hold their ward accountable. When this is attached to the political process, the bureaucracy has a tendency to ossify and metastasize thanks to a combination of risk aversion (who in their right mind would want to give up a job that lets you boss around ordinary citizens?) and ambition (who in their right mind would not want to increase the scope of their petty dominion?). At least in theory, politically-empowered bureaucracies have some check on the scope of their ambition: they have actual flesh-and-blood principals who can in extremis revoke their charter. Mob-empowered bureaucracies are another matter. In a culture war, anyone can pick up a sword and a shield and wade into the fray. "Social Justice Warriors" are accountable only to the limits of their own conscience.

Though the first casualty may be Truth, you can be sure that the Valkyries tending the Culture War has swooped in to spirit a much more lamentable fallen soul to Valhalla: the gentleman with the invisible hand guiding anonymous, impersonal, anodyne commerce where the Jew, the Gentile, the Muslim, the Slattern, the Aristocrat, the Awkward, the Hateful, and the Virtuous may gather in blessed, simple peace to transact for mutual benefit, regardless of race, of creed, of nationality, of faith, of all the petty, niggling trifles of life that divide us elsewhere. Check your cultural baggage with the market warden, folks. Or at least that's how it ought to be. That's the legacy we inherited, and it's the legacy we now seem hell-bent on squandering.

The Internet Hate Mobs have metastasized. And they have chosen their battleground: commercial spaces.

I never thought I'd write this, but I live in an America where buying a pizza is no longer a euvoluntary exchange.

Hail Eris.

P.S. Mr. Kasso, you uh, you better call Saul. And reconsider your threats of defamation lawsuits. Friendly advice. Love, Spivonomist.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?