Social Cohesion Vs Free Market

In Daf Yomi, we’re studying the Talmudic tractate Bava Batra (laws of property) where this week we’ve been learning rules for social cohesion. Jews, I think, are the only group to have survived as a distinct people while living for thousands of years in a diaspora (until recently, a majority of Jews have lived outside of Israel for the past 2500 years). Judaism is a particularly powerful and effective form of ethno-nationalism and evolutionary group strategy.

One of the rules we learned this week is that every town must provide schooling, even for those who can’t afford to pay. Education is essential for group cohesion and strength. What the Talmud does not demand is that Jews pay for the schooling of non-Jews. When America was cohesive and largely homogenous, the public schools were great. People don’t mind paying for social services for people like themselves. As America becomes more diverse, people become more reluctant about funding schools and other social programs for people unlike themselves. To be blunt, I’d estimate that 60% of American whites don’t want to fund social welfare programs for other groups.

The other law I studied this week was regulation of where you could start a business. From the perspective of the Jewish tradition, a Jew can’t just move anywhere and compete with anyone. There are rules and restrictions. You can’t set up a business next to somebody already operating without the permission of the rabbis.

America’s social cohesion has been destroyed since 1965 by vast immigration. It has driven down the wages of the working class and thereby diminished their life prospects. People frightened about the future have fewer children. Social cohesion, public virtue, social trust are often more important than the free market and slightly higher economic growth.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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