Government as a Schelling Point
By Arnold Kling
When people think of society at large as the group to which they belong–when they think of having “citizenship,” whether it be in a town, a county, or a country–the logic of coordination leads directly to government as the focal point. Unparalleled in power, permanence, and pervasiveness, the government is prominent, conspicuous, unique, focal. Moreover, as people look to government as the focal point, it increasingly draws them into thinking of its dominion as the boundaries that define the group.
The title of his essay is The People’s Romance, by which he means the romantic attachment that people have for collectivist ideas. He is optimistic that what he calls TPR may dissipate.
I believe that technological developments in communications and transportation have diminished the power of TPR, and I expect the trend to continue. We do not belong to a single well-defined group but rather, increasingly, to many loosely defined groups, and those groups are increasingly of our own choosing. The structures we experience are less organizational and more networked and spontaneous.
For Discussion. Do you agree that in our more networked, globalized age that the romance with collectivism will wane?