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莫志宏

北京工业大学副教授,九鼎公共事务研究所研究员,华人哈耶克学会会员,从事宪政经济学和制度经济学研究。

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The market as reciprocal mechanism and its educational function  

2010-08-05 17:52:33|  分类: 关于市场的常识 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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In market everyone has to make a living by offering something others need. One cannot expect manna from the heaven. He knows that if he cannot provide something needed by others, there is no way to live a decent life. Market viewed from this perspective, is not a place where there is much space for love to play its role, and one cannot expect such.  

That the market does not run on the basis of love should not lead one to blame the market as caluous, immoral, or something else.  For one, in the market place, that the transaction occures between independent agents precludes the possibility that such transaction bases on love, since, if there is love between two independent persons, there would be no transaction in the true, normal sense. Second, it is exactly because of the reciprocality inherent in every market transaction that the market acquires its moral significance, since, the problem of morality arises only in the context of social association, not in the context of family where altruistic behavior is not infeasibile for kinship relationship.

The first point tells us that love and market transaction based on reciprocality is exclusive, while the second point  implies that we should understand the morality of market or market transaction not in terms of the incentive of the market transactor, but in terms of something else.

The first point is easy to understand, the second is not, since it involves a little bit second thought. Let me expain. In market any rational dealer would not expect his counterpart to concede too large an interest to him as to harm one's own interest. Instead, he would be alert if his counterpart claims such. The reason is simple: it is inviable in the long run for anyone in the market relationship to benefit others at the cost of his own interest, and if one claims that he is doing such, there is enough reason to believe he is either lying, or behaving inappropritely in someway or another.

 What does this mean? It means that market transaction by its very nature would lead to a win-win situation, not a win-loss situation.  Note, a win-win situation has an inherent moral dimension with it: it connotes that there is not, and needs not the requirment of anyone's intentional regarding for other's interest in the market place, and based on such no-regarding-for others but also no harm to others morality, everybody who has involved in market transaction could find a niche in the market and make a living without burdening others by also letting others make a living. 

To summerize, market provides the exact condition for everyone in the society to peacefully coexist, no more and no less: beyond what could be provided by the market, is love or altruism that could only be provided in small circle of known people, e.g., family, but cannot be extended to a world populated with unfamiliar persons,  while below what could be provided by the market, is predatory behavior which is to disrupt the mechanism of social coordination thus is generally checked by formal and informal rules of conduct.

To wish a world beyond what could be provided by market is to wish an utopia, although admittedly the market would also evolve as people in it evolve, and the genera character of people in the market determines the character of the market. Of course, no one would wish a world below the level of what could be provided by the market, but there does exist the danger that, in willing a world that is beyond what could be provided by the market, people may inadvertently call for a worse world. A state/government that intends to do good, and upon which people place hope to do good, is easily converted into a predatory state/government. The no-love but also non-predatory market place may become one dominated by predatory force sanctified by the state/government.

     

    

 

 

   

 

 

               

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