By Tom Kando
Abram De Swaan, professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam, has an interview-article in the Nov-Dec. Issue of the Dutch magazine Hollands Diep, in which he discusses Marketism. A great word.
Europe, like America, is in the throes of a general attack of what De Swaan calls Marketism at all levels of the government, the economy and society. As in America, more and more people believe that pure market economics - the Adam Smith-Milton Friedman model if you will - can solve ALL problems.
De Swaan’s word “Marketism” is very apt, if for no other reason than because it is so similar to Marxism - that OPPOSITE paradigm which for 70 years dogmatically ruled and destroyed a huge chunk of the world, including the Soviet Union and my own country of birth - Hungary.
De Swaan wonders how it is possible that “in an open society, one paradigm - call it Marketism - has gotten such a hold of the people, even though one should know that it is in many ways an illusion.”
This statement strikes me the way lightning would. Something which one already knows to be true, but which is stated with such clarity that its truth becomes even more inescapable.
....only, sadly, it is even more true in America than it is in Western Europe. Here, the Sarah Palins, Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs, Fox News, and their millions of Tea Party and many Republican followers not only share a conservative economic ideology - they are nothing less than fanatic zealots in their advocacy of absolute and pure market economics.
To them, Marketism has become a religion, a blind faith, unconnected to empirical facts. In this, they differ from scholars such as Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, or even Alan Greenspan, who had the decency to admit that he was wrong, after the banking system which he had de-regulated collapsed.
In America, we have people, ranging from know-nothing ignoramuses to powerful governors (e.g. Rick Perry in Texas) who would abolish all taxes.
De Swaan may not like the trend in Holland, but I can assure him that the disease of Marketism is not nearly as virulent over there as it is here.
De Swaan goes on to explain the obvious: “I am a strong supporter of the idea of the free market. But I differ from Marketists in that I also support all sorts of other ideas.... Marketism says nothing about its own boundaries. It says nothing about what is outside the marketplace, for instance the arts, foreign policy, issues of war and peace, the environment, public safety, law and punishment, and so forth. It says nothing about the bonds which people develop in the context of family, neighborhood, friendship groups and profession. It says nothing about associations, about civil society. For that, one needs other perspectives, also in order to prevent the free market idea from spilling over into societal sectors where it does not belong..”
Quite so. And again, I like the juxtaposition of these two words, these two “-isms”: Marketism and Marxism: Both launched by serious scholars, both with merit, then both perverted into religions, into excesses which do violence to reality, hurt millions of people, and eventually collapse. leave comment here
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
By Tom Kando