“CATALLAXY”

“CATALLAXY” is a Community Trade Mark of the European Union: CTM nr. 004149134

Il significato della parola “catallaxy”

“La frase “economia di mercato” è una contraddizione in termini: il significato originario della parola “economia” è infatti quello di «amministrazione, specialmente delle cose domestiche» (www.etimo.it). La parola “economia” si riferisce quindi originariamente a un’organizzazione: l’oikia era l’autosufficiente comunità familiare di tipo tribale in cui per di più «non c’era distinzione fra ‘privato’ e ‘pubblico’» [1]. L’“economia” è quindi un ordine razionale, non un ordine spontaneo. Per indicare l’ordine spontaneo del libero mercato, Hayek forma la parola catallaxy (in italiano ‘catallassi’), di cui si «innamora» [2] per la sua etimologia, che effettivamente è molto bella. Hayek deriva la parola catallaxy da catallactics, termine a cui già Mises in Human Action era ricorso per indicare la “scienza economica” senza essere costretti a usare la parola “economia” (economics) che appunto è inadeguata per le ragioni dette. La parola catallactics deriva dal verbo greco katallassein (o katallattein) che in greco antico significa non solo «scambiare» (di qui la maggiore appropriatezza della parola catallactics rispetto alla parola economics per indicare la scienza che si occupa dello studio di quel tipo particolare di ordine spontaneo costituito dal libero mercato) ma anche «accogliere nella comunità» e «trasformare il nemico in amico» [3]. In fondo non sono questi alcuni degli effetti più belli del libero mercato? Non è forse anche attraverso i liberi scambi individuali che si creano legami fra persone e fra culture? Non era forse a qualcosa di simile che si riferiva Frédéric Bastiat quando diceva che se attraverso un confine non ci passano le merci prima o poi ci passano gli eserciti? Da catallactics, la scienza che studia l’ordine spontaneo del mercato, Hayek deriva la parola catallaxy per indicare l’oggetto di quello studio: l’ordine spontaneo del libero mercato (o, più impropriamente, la cosiddetta “economia di mercato”)”. (Tratto da: La mentalità anti-scientifica di Giovanni Birindelli, nota 12)

[1] Oakeshott, M., 2006, Lectures in the History of Political Thought (Imprint Academic, Exeter & Charlottesville), p. 50, traduzione mia.

[2] Hayek, F. A., 1978, New Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London), p. 60, traduzione mia.

[3] Hayek, F. A., 1998 [1976], Law, Legislation and Liberty (Routledge, London & New York), Vol. 2, pp. 108-109, traduzione mia.

 

Quotes

“The term ‘catallactics’ was derived from the Greek verb katallattein (or katallassein) which meant, significantly, not only ‘to exchange’ but also ‘to admit into the community’ and ‘to change from enemy into friend’. From it the adjective ‘catallactic’ has been derived to serve in the place of ‘economic’ to describe the kind of phenomena with which the science of catallactics deals. The ancient Greeks knew neither this term nor had a corresponding noun; if they had formed one it would probably have been katallaxia. From this we can form an English term catallaxy which we shall use to describe the order brought about by the mutual adjustment of many individual economies in a market. A catallaxy is thus the special kind of spontaneous order produced by the market through people acting within the rules of the law of property, tort and contract.” (Hayek, F. A., 1982, Law, Legislation and Liberty (Routledge, London), Vol. 2, pp. 108-109).

“It has been suggested more than once that the theory explaining the working of the market be called catallactics from the classic Greek word for bartering or exchanging – katallattein. I have fallen somewhat in love with this word since discovering that in ancient Greek, in addition to ‘exchanging’, it also meant ‘to admit into the community’ and ‘to change from enemy into friend’. I have therefore proposed that we call the game of the market, by which we can induce the stranger to welcome and serve us, the ‘game of catallaxy’” (Hayek, F. A., 1978, New Studies (Routledge and Keagan Paul, London), p. 60).

“The instance in which the use of the same term for two different kinds of order has caused most confusion, and is still constantly misleading even serious thinkers, is probably that of the use of the word ‘economy’ for both the deliberate arrangement or organization of resources in the service of a unitary hierarchy of ends, such as a household, an enterprise, or any other organization including government, and the structure of many interrelated economies of this kind which we call … an ‘economy’. The ordered structure which the market produces is, however, not an organization but a spontaneous order or cosmos, and is for this reason in many respects fundamentally different from that arrangement or organization originally and properly called an economy. The belief, largely due to this use of the same term for both, that the market order ought to be made to behave as if it were an economy proper, and that its performance can and ought to be judged by the same criteria, has become the source of so many errors and fallacies that it seems necessary to adopt a new technical term to describe the order of the market which spontaneously forms itself. By analogy with the term catallactics which has often been proposed as a replacement for the term ‘economics’ as the name for the theory of the market order, we could describe that order itself as a catallaxy. Both expressions are derived from the Greek verb katallattein (or katallassein) which significantly means not only ‘to exchange’ but also ‘to receive into the community’ and ‘to turn enemy into friend’. The chief aim of this neologism is to emphasize that a catallaxy never ought nor can be made to serve a particular hierarchy of concrete ends, and that therefore its performance cannot be judged in terms of a sum of particular results. Yet all the aims of socialism, all attempts to enforce ‘social’ o ‘distributive’ justice, and the whole of the so-called ‘welfare economics’, are directed towards turning the cosmos of the spontaneous order of the market into an arrangement or taxis, or the catallaxy into an economy proper.” (Hayek, F. A., 1978, New Studies (Routledge and Keagan Paul, London), p. 90-1).

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