Free Market Fundamentalism

in informationwar •  3 months ago 

"A stupid economic idea is one that is immune to empirical refutation while being useful to specific constituencies." That's a little quote I stole from political scientist Mark Blyth; unknowingly perhaps, he just described the kind of fundamentalism our society suffers from.

source: Picpedia.Org

Every era in recorded human history has had its own predominant stories to excuse the hierarchical class-structure that endures to this day. Most of them were based on religious beliefs; kings and religious authorities claimed to act out the will of God, or even to be representatives of God, while spreading the word that kept them rich and the workers poor. It was just what it was: you lived poorly and grateful for whatever God and the King let you keep for yourself, and if you did well, you'd be rewarded in the afterlife. Religious beliefs are immune to empirical refutation while being very useful to the King and the Cardinal... Nowadays nothing has changed really, Machiavellianism never really died and Sun Tzu's The Art of War is still wildly popular among economical and political leaders; they just spread another kind of "word" and its essence is encapsulated in the capitalist ideology.

Fundamentalism is described as an "unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs." The unwavering attachment becomes evident when a belief is immune to rational and logical arguments, not dented whatsoever by evidence against it. With religious beliefs this feature is evident for all to see, the very definition of "faith" is believing in something that doesn't require evidence; you take a proverbial "leap of faith" when you go ahead with something for which there's no indication in advance that it will succeed, no prior evidence or logic to sustain such belief. Fundamentalism has also become related to increased literalism; the fundamentalist believers measure the magnitude of their faith against the strictness with which they adhere to the literal texts of the scriptures. In the intro of this post, Mark Blyth perfectly describes the widespread blind faith in capitalism, and gives us a method to identify the fundamentalists; you can fill in the right wing political ideology of your choice here.

Just like the religious fundamentalist will shout "heretic!" at anyone that doesn't adhere to the scriptures to the level that's demanded by his or her standards of good faith, the capitalist fundamentalist will immediately cry out "communist!" at anyone who dares besmirch the purity of the free market economy. They will shout "taxation is theft!" while leaning on an unproven and logically broken idea of "voluntarism", and completely bypassing the fact that there's no separation between politics and economy; they were born together and, with any luck, they'll die together, as they are the instruments used to regulate the distribution of power. When you say taxation is theft, there's something underlying that assertion: it presumes that the ones holding the wealth are entitled to that wealth. If you, on the other hand, presume that most of their wealth was created by other people, if you presume that a billionaire isn't a billionaire because he or she works a billion times harder than the average worker, you might not automatically believe that the billionaire is entitled to all that money, you might even think it's only reasonable and just if they give some of that wealth back to the workers who's labor they exploited, to the society that built the infrastructure they were allowed to use, and so on. Taxes can only be theft if you hold the fundamental(ist) position that capital should be allowed to roam freely, that the terms "non aggression" and "freedom" apply to property to the same degree that they apply to human beings. Which is nuts in my opinion.

No one is getting hurt by taxing the capitalist aristocracy significantly more. To the contrary; not taxing them more hurts society as a whole, and the happiest countries on Earth are the countries that tax the rich the most and reduce income inequality by doing so. Poverty is measured locally; we measure our own wealth against other individuals in our own society. Yes, a poor man in Europe would be well off compared to the abject absolute poverty in the third world, but the problem is he doesn't compare himself to the third world. No one does that; like Einstein said, it's all relative. A financially struggling man in America doesn't suddenly feel rich when he sees African kids die from hunger on his color TV, but does feel miserable, and maybe even angry, when he sees that multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos only pays his employees a 15 dollar minimum wage AFTER being pressured into doing so. Happiness, a sense of well-being, being allowed to not feel inadequate, these are all measured and felt by comparing ourselves to other members of the society we are part of.

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

I'll close it here; this rant has gone on long enough. Like with any other faith, the underlying principles of the capitalist economy don't hold up to scrutiny, are at the same time immune to any refutation and very useful to a certain small group of our societies. But hey, what do I know; I'm a heretic after all ;-)

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Very interesting point of view

I'm glad you liked it! Thanks so much for the response @flysky :-)