Bernie Sanders and others tend to give kudos to China for their spectacular growth. Would the growth have been possible if the west had not already achieved a developed economy? Seems much of China’s growth is due to a process similar to arbitrage. Rather than entrepreneurs having to devise new products for customers, Chinese businessmen only had to figure out how to convert underused human labor into more productive activities. Producing goods for which there were already known customers. Not to disparage what they have done, but rather realize it would not have been possible, if the rest of the world had been at the same level of development as China. Maybe inequality is a good thing for lifting people out of poverty.
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII wrote that “the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the leveling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation. Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal.”
A recent podcast interview with Prof. Nickolas Christakis titled Evolution of Cooperation brought to mind a 1984 book by Robert Axelrod
Here are some pdf’s related to the book.