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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Let society evolve

Bottom up thinking from a political party at last

Tim Worstall's commentary on the new Tory faith in volunteers is funny and perceptive. The main criticism people make of voluntarism is that people might not volunteer. Says Worstall:

We currently have several armies' worth of people whose paid job is to shepherd the proles into certain forms of organisation and behaviour. The worry seems to be that if these roles were devolved down to a community of volunteers, then they wouldn't get done. The proles would be unshepherded for the proles can't be arsed to do said shepherding.

As he points out, this is a neat case of revealed preference:

We can't leave people alone to do or not do these things for they'll not get done. Excellent, they shouldn't be done then!

For the first time in my life, I've seen a political manifesto based on bottom-up, emergent-property thinking throughout. Not like the old right wing, which wanted bottom-up for business and top-down for society. Not like the old left wing, which wanted top-down for the economy and bottom-up for society. Not like today's Labour party, which wants top-down, authoritarian dirigisme for everything.

Well, almost throughout. The Tories still seem to be thinking top-down on energy, marriage and a few other things.

Still, this Letwinism is the most `liberal', people-trusting party platform I've seen. Michael Gove on Newsnight (starts at 15.08 mins) was great. I especially like his comment when told police chiefs are against bering made accountable to elected officials:

The authentic voice of vested interests throughout the ages.