‘Generals win battles; politicians run countries; scientists discover truths; artists create genres; inventors make breakthroughs; priests teach morality; businessmen lead businesses … That’s the way I was taught. I now think it is more often wrong than right. Individuals can make a difference, of course, and so can political parties or big companies … But if there is one dominant myth about the world, … it is that we all go around assuming the world is much more of a planned place than it is.’
Human society evolves. Change in technology, language, mortality and society is incremental, inexorable, gradual and spontaneous. It follows a narrative, going from one stage to the next; it creeps rather than jumps; it has its own spontaneous momentum rather than being driven from outside; it has no goal or end in mind; and it largely happens by trial and error – a version of natural selection. Much of the human world is the result of human action, but not of human design; it emerges from the interactions of millions, not from the plans of a few.
Drawing on fascinating evidence from science, economics, history, politics and philosophy, Matt Ridley demolishes conventional assumptions that the great events and trends of our day are dictated by those on high, whether in government, business, academia or organised religion. On the contrary our most important achievements develop from the bottom up. The industrial revolution, mobile telephony, the rise of Asia and the Internet were never planned; they happened. Languages emerged and evolved by a form of natural section, as did common law. In this wide-ranging and erudite book, Matt Ridley brilliantly makes the case for evolution, rather than design, as the force that has shaped much of the culture, our technology and our minds, and that even now is shaping our future.
As compelling as it is controversial, as authoritative as it is ambitious. Ridley's deeply thought provoking essays will change the way we think about the world and how it works.
Published on:Sunday, February 19, 2017