The latest print edition of National Review features Jonah Goldberg as the “Happy Warrior” columnist. He uses that platform to remind us of an important lesson from Friedrich Hayek:

In the opening pages of The Fatal Conceit, Friedrich Hayek makes a simple distinction that explains what I’ve long called the fundamental category error in politics. In our local, family-centric lives, we live in what he describes as a “micro-cosmos.” The rules of the micro-cosmos are deeply informed by our instincts, our emotions, and what Hayek calls our “sentimental yearnings.” The macro-cosmos — i.e., society or civilization — is governed by a very different set of rules.

Let me put a fine point on it. Inside my family, I am a socialist and a bit of an authoritarian. I do not charge my daughter for her food, clothing, shelter, etc. My money is my wife’s money. As for the authoritarianism, my daughter doesn’t get to vote on how she spends most of her time. She has to do her homework, go to bed at a time of our choosing, eat what she’s fed, and so on. Ultimately, the family, properly conceived and run, is a benign autocracy, in which democracy is introduced slowly and piecemeal. I know of no good parents and — just as important — no good capitalists who disagree with me categorically about any of this.

Meanwhile, the farther out you get from the micro-cosmos of your formal family and your extended informal tribe of friends, the more the rules change. I will happily feed my friends and relatives free of charge, but I see no problem charging strangers for eating my chili (cheap at any price, by the way) or drinking my Scotch. My authority over my kid is near absolute, my authority over my friend’s kids is extremely limited, and my authority over a stranger’s kid is nearly nonexistent.

In the extended order of civilization, my obligations to strangers are almost wholly negative and formal. I am obliged not to steal your property or do you harm. These obligations may have support in manners and customs, but the only rules that truly bind us are legal, written down in books.

These two universes depend on each other for their survival. But if you try to run the macro-cosmos according to the rules of the micro-cosmos, or vice versa, you destroy them both. “If we were to apply the unmodified, uncurbed rules of the micro-cosmos (i.e., of the small band or troop, or of, say, our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilization), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings often make us wish to do, we would destroy it,” Hayek warns. Moreover, “if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them. So we must learn to live in two sorts of world at once.”