Religion & Liberty Online

Knowledge, Power, and the Element of Entrepreneurial Surprise

In his new book, Knowledge and Power, the imitable George Gilder aims at reframing our economic paradigm, focusing heavily on the tension between the power of the State and the knowledge of entrepreneurs — or, as William Easterly has put it, the planners and the searchers.

“Wealth is essentially knowledge,” Gilder writes, and “the war between the centrifuge of knowledge and the centripetal pull of power remains the prime conflict in all economies.”

In a recent interview with Peter Robinson, he fleshes out his thesis:

Quoting Albert Hirschman, Gilder notes that, “Creativity always comes as a surprise to us,” continuing (in his own words), “if it didn’t, we wouldn’t need it and planning would work….Entrepreneurial creativity is almost defined by its surprisal —  by its unexpected character.”

Making room for such surprise requires a dose of Hayekian humility, but as for the shapes, contours, and origins of the surprise itself, Christianity has plenty to say.

knowledge-and-power-gilderGiven the Fall of Man, a Knowledge Problem Kick-Off of sorts, plenty of obstacles persist. Yet if, as King Solomon writes, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” a path remains.

As we stretch our social and political imaginations to make room for entrepreneurial surprise, Christians have a unique opportunity to demonstrate what that should look like. Ours, like many entrepreneurs, is a pursuit filled with risk and creativity. Yet ours, unlike many, is one in solid submission to the call of the Holy Spirit. “Gospel entrepreneurship,” as Owen Strachan calls it.

Gilder does a great service in stretching the frontier of economic analysis, and as Christians, we should be eager and prepared to contribute accordingly.

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Joseph Sunde

Joseph Sunde's work has appeared in venues such as the Foundation for Economic Education, First Things, The Christian Post, The Stream, Intellectual Takeout, Patheos, LifeSiteNews, The City, Charisma News, The Green Room, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work, as well as on PowerBlog. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and four children.