As quoted at Evangelical Outpost from an interview with the superb Roger Scruton, titled The Market and Human Nature:
MG: What deleterious consequences result from the "free market ideology" you mention? Are there particular economic arrangements that conservatives ought to prefer?
Scruton: The free market is a necessary part of any stable community, and the arguments for maintaining it as the core of economic life were unanswerably set out by Ludwig von Mises. Hayek developed the arguments further, in order to offer a general defense of "spontaneous order", as the means to produce and maintain socially necessary knowledge. As Hayek points out, there are many varieties of spontaneous order that exemplify the epistemic virtues that he values: the common law is one of them, so too is ordinary morality.
The problem for conservatism is to reconcile the many and often conflicting demands that these various forms of life impose on us. The free-market ideologues take one instance of spontaneous order, and erect it into a prescription for all the others. They ask us to believe that the free exchange of commodities is the model for all social interaction. But many of our most important forms of life involve withdrawing what we value from the market: sexual morality is an obvious instance, city planning another. (America has failed abysmally in both those respects, of course.)
Looked at from the anthropological point of view religion can be seen as an elaborate (and spontaneous) way in which communities remove what is most precious to them (i.e. all that concerns the creation and reproduction of community) from the erosion of the market. A cultural conservative, such as I am, supports that enterprise. I would put the point in terms that echo Burke and Chesterton: the free market provides the optimal solution to the competition among the living for scarce resources; but when applied to the goods in which the dead and the unborn have an interest (sex, for instance) it wastes what must be saved.
Hayek's concept of "spontaneous order" is what knocks me out.
The world is manifestly full of that kind of mysterious order, from the nature of the cosmos to human nature (aka "design" as opposed to chaos), and I'd love to post a lengthy riff on that enticing topic - but it's too late tonight and I avoid discussing transcendent issues here on Ye olde Blogge. So, instead, I'll post of photo from our men's Bible study group's prayer-and-cocktails-and-sunset dinner-and-cigar outing tonight, down on Long Island Sound. The very existence of our group is an example of "spontaneous order," one tiny example of the order in the universe which I believe to be a manifestation of God.
I wish I could post a photo of this cheery, self-disparaging, Christ-centered and humorous group, each one waving a fine ceegar with a glass of wine in his hand - but I wouldn't do that.
Nice boat. Thanks, bro, for taking us all out on the water tonight. The sea brings me close to Christ. It reminds me of how much of Scripture takes place on or near the water.