I happened to catch the BBC Radio 5 sports punditry show Fighting Talk on Saturday. One topic under discussion was whether soccer’s FA Premier League should “do something” about dominance of the current top three teams in the league, it being alleged that their success made the rest of the league boring. One of the pundits was against this notion, making the point that, as little as 15 years ago, there were different dominant teams. Those who celebrated Liverpool’s invulnerability in the mid 1980s could hardly have imagined that that club’s place would be taken by Manchester United in the 1990s. Indeed, barely six months ago, nobody could have predicted the emergence of oligarch-funded Chelsea as title contenders. She argued that the league had evolved “organically” – any problems would tend to correct themselves – and lamented the prospect of a “genetically engineered” league with structures designed to hobble the successful teams and boost the mediocre.
I thought it was interesting to hear those specific terms used to support a laissez faire position and it struck me that there is a paradox about environmentalism. That is that, while it holds that organic processes are desirable in food production and any kind of “artificial engineering” is bad, it holds that the reverse applies to society and the economy. Capitalism has developed without a plan. Nobody had to sit down and design civil society. Yet these natural phenomena are scorned by the likes of the Green party whose underlying premise is that society should be re-engineered so that it can become “more natural”.