Economic Development and the Death of the Free Market

Economic Development and the Death of the Free Market
Fix, Blair. (2020). Working Papers on Capital as Power. No. 2020/01. May. pp. 1-59. (Article - Working Paper; English).

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Abstract or Brief Description

Free markets are, according to neoclassical economic theory, the most efficient way of organizing human activity. The claim is that individuals can benefit society by acting only in their self interest. In contrast, the evolutionary theory of multilevel selection proposes that groups must suppress the self interest of individuals. They often do so, the evidence suggests, by using hierarchical organization. To test these conflicting theories, I investigate how the ‘degree of hierarchy’ in societies changes with industrial development. I find that as energy use increases, governments tend to get larger and the relative number of managers tends to grow. Using a numerical model, I infer from this evidence that societies tend to become more hierarchical as energy use grows. This result is inconsistent with the neoclassical theory that individual self-interest is what benefits society. But it is consistent with the theory of multilevel selection, in which groups suppress the self-interest of their members.



Publication Type

Article - Working Paper


culture development energy free market hierarchy multilevel selection power sociality


BN Methodology
BN Power
BN Civilization & Social Systems
BN Conflict & Violence
BN Cooperation & Collective Action
BN Culture
BN Distribution
BN Ecology & Environment
BN Growth
BN Ideology
BN Industrial Organization

Depositing User

Jonathan Nitzan

Date Deposited

27 May 2020 23:11

Last Modified

28 May 2020 14:54


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