Monday, 28 January 2013

Market Populism

The market and the people - both of them understood as grand principles of social life ... were essentially one and the same. By its very nature the market was democratic, perfectly expressing the popular will through the machinery of supply and demand, poll and focus group, superstore and internet. In fact, the market was more democratic than any of the formal institutions of democracy - elections, legislatures, government ... The market was infinitely diverse, permitting without prejudice the articulation of any and all tastes and preferences. Most importantly of all, the market was militant about its democracy. It had no place for snobs, for hierarchies, for elitism ... and it would fight these things by its very nature.
From Thomas Franks, One Market Under God 2002, p.29


Chris said...

The market, left to itself, is a one way ticket to tyranny and highly concentrated wealth and power. It is the latter even when not left to itself!

Phil said...

Quite how anarcho-capitalists and "libertarians" reconcile this with a notion of freedom is beyond me. As an old beard once put it, the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

Chris said...

Thinking about this a bit more I think it is wrong to even talk in terms of 'the market', or put things in that context. As if the market can be separated from everything else.

I was wrong to say the 'market left to itself....' because the market by definition can't be left to itself. It is a human construct.

I think when looking at libertarian ideas of the market we shouldn't imagine this market, as I did in my first comment, but just dismiss it as utter nonsense.

I tend to look at the libertarians as the ultimate apologists. Every time capitalism has a crisis they say, this isn't a capitalist crisis but a crisis of too much human interference in the market. They fall back on a Utopian concept and because this concept can never be realized, they can always fall back on it!