Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics
Geography as Causal in Societal Ascendance: An Austrian Retrospective on Diamond
Volume 12, Number 4 (2009)
In his 1997 book, Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond attributes the ascendancy and triumphs of certain societies to geographical and environmental advantages. But given the conditions of geography and environment, Diamond advances the misguided view that societal ascent is principally contingent upon success in centralizing management of resources. Diamond largely ignores the institutions critical to formation and ascent of a society: (1) private property rights and (2) monetary exchange leading to specialization and division of labor. Diamond fails to understand the fact that these institutions necessarily imply that society cannot be viewed as an acting entity independently of the actions of individual, goal-oriented human beings. Private property and monetary exchange allow individuals to rationally reckon economic scarcity and the marginal private worth of alternative plans for serving the current and future needs of others.
Cite This Article
Brätland, John. "Geography as Casual in Societal Ascendance: An Austrian Retrospective on Diamond." The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 12, No. 4 (2009): 46–63.