The Secret Life of the Market Religon

The Republican Party, and far too much of the Democratic Party, are market fanatics. That’s an ideological statement, but I think it’s also a fact with a lot of substantive supporting evidence. Fanaticism is both demonstrable and dangerous. You can see it in action simply by watching the Tea Party caucus in Congress. The impasse is a conscious and often explicit strategy and it’s rooted in the market religion.

I’m no fan of liberals, and too often the liberal solution to any given problem is horrible, but the current Democratic Party, the party of President Clinton, is pragmatic to a fault and so willing to compromise.  Arguably, they are too willing to compromise. So the governmental impasse that is slowing down the economic recovery isn’t symmetrical, even if each side is ideologically more similar than is too often assumed.

The Republican strategy is different because it is founded in an irrational faith in markets that may or may not be cynical or self-serving. Do they really believe that the economy will take off if  we were to eliminate environmental regulations?  Is it simply that they get paid to say these things? It’s hard to say. What is clear is that the audience for the market religion has been consciously cultivated over the last three decades.

The idea of a “free market” is no more substantive than “creationist” theories; markets are many things but they are never free. Yet groups like the Koch brothers, and their allies in higher education, like the ACTA, continue to insist that any  “exchange of ideas” about economics must treat the market religion as a rational system and not a faith. I think their creepy desire to collect email is a hunt for converts to their cult.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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