Traffic jams and spontaneous order… In GermanyPosted: November 28, 2011
Remember my post about letting people in front in a traffic jam? I recently returned home from a short family trip to Germany and there I witnessed the solution, and I thank Hayek for coming up with the theory to explain the phenomenon.
See, in the northern part of Germany where I was, I noticed that it was an unwritten rule of thumb to always let in one car in front of you. This worked really well, with both lanes accepting it, and behaving accordingly without taking advantage or offence.
As far as I know, there is no direct law concerning this. Therefore it is what Hayek called a spontaneous order. Spontaneous orders are orders that are shaped by human actions in social contexts, but without the coercive force of government or other type of planning and without external enforcing, like a police force. They tend to be highly efficient, as in this case.
Unfortunately I live in Denmark and not Germany, where this rule has not emerged. I believe these two nations to be very alike culturally. The only main difference is that the Danish state is huge and involved in incredible many aspects of the life of its subjects. That is not beneficial for the emergence of social orders. They need freedom, even a little chaos, to evolve. The other path, that of violent government planning, is not able to account of the multitude of situations that spontaneous order typically do, and they need enforcement, where spontaneous orders comes natural, as all will likely on average benefit equally. After all, you do not know where in the morning rush hour traffic you might end up.
So thank you Germany for solving the issue… And thank you dear reader for taking the time to read this.