Charles Darwin tells us more about economics than Adam Smith does

In Darwin’s theory, natural selection favors traits and behaviors that promote individual reproductive success. Many of the examples he observed were closely analogous to Smith’s account of product design improvements. But Darwin also recognized that individual and group interests often conflict sharply and that, in those cases, individual interests generally trump group interests…

In short, Darwin’s understanding of competition makes clear that there can be no presumption that the process promotes the common good. Often it does. But success in Darwinian terms typically depends heavily on relative performance, and attempts to occupy scarce slots atop any hierarchy inevitably provoke wasteful, mutually offsetting arms races.

It’s an important point, since the modern conservative’s case for minimal government rests on the presumption that competition always promotes society’s welfare. But our best understanding of how competition actually functions, as Darwin’s work makes clear, supports no such presumption.