27 May 2011 at 2:49 pm 7 comments

| Peter Klein |

Wikipedia on market fundamentalism: “a pejorative term applied to an exaggerated religious-like faith in the ability of unfettered laissez-faire or free market economic views or policies to solve economic and social problems.”

Alvin Plantinga (from Tom Gilson via T-bone) on religious fundamentalism:

I fully realize that the dreaded f-word will be trotted out to stigmatize [my model of Christian epistemology]. Before responding, however, we must first look into the use of this term “fundamentalist.” On the most common contemporary academic use of the term, it is a term of abuse or disapprobation, rather like “son of a bitch,” more exactly “sonovabitch,” or perhaps still more exactly (at least according to those authorities who look to the Old West as normative on matters of pronunciation) “sumbitch.” When the term is used in this way, no definition of it is ordinarily given. (If you called someone a sumbitch, would you feel obliged first to define the term?) Still, there is a bit more to the meaning of “fundamentalist” (in this widely current use): it isn’t simply a term of abuse. In addition to its emotive force, it does have some cognitive content, and ordinarily denotes relatively conservative theological views. That makes it more like “stupid sumbitch” (or maybe “fascist sumbitch”?) than “sumbitch” simpliciter. . . . The full meaning of the term, therefore (in this use), can be given by something like “stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine.”

Maybe I should be more careful calling people “Keynesians.”

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Cultural Conservatism.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Arend  |  27 May 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Wrote my bachelor thesis on the genealogy of market fundamentalism (Gray, Soros) to defend Hayek’s economics against it. Initially wanted to include Friedman as well, but his economics (not his politics of course, or…. never mind) cannot be defended from the market fundamentalism slur. Still have to transform and update it sometime into an English because market fundamentalism and neoliberalism are the enemies of a free and peaceful world, while at the same time they are associated with free market capitalism and economic progress which results from semantic sloppiness and ignorance among its pundits.

  • 2. Arend  |  27 May 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Neoliberalism as a synonym of market fundamentalism is actually pretty accurate when one takes liberalism in the US meaning of the term, not the continental (classical) liberal meaning. We live in a neoliberal world where politicians and central banks think they can macro and micro manage the economy and where ever increasing authoritarian states compete for capital flows and resource supply lines (oil, i.e. economic imperialism, the US is not in Libya for the broccoli as Gerald Celente would say). Gray and Soros are pretty on target when they talk about the turmoil caused by market fundamentalism; but they never seem to get that this is not the same thing as free market capitalism, voluntarism, agorism, anarcho capitalism or anything related to those concepts. That’s because they were never well educated in economics and politics, or are merely cynical on the topic, or have mental or physical interests that contradict with a real free and open world society. yeah Mr. Soros, the name of your foundation is rather Orwellian… :-)

  • 3. FC  |  27 May 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Soros? GIGO.

  • 4. Michael Marotta  |  28 May 2011 at 7:22 am

    Since the mid-1970s, I always took “market fundamentalism” to refer to investors, traders, and speculators who ignored the news and rumors and looked at the laws of economics and the company’s “numbers” – rates of returns, debt, equity, market share, products, leadership, etc., regardless of what “everyone else” was saying for the moment.

    I accept neo-conservative as actually meaning something because advocates have applied the term to themselves.

    On my Windows PC, my homepage is CNN and on my MacBook, it is Reuters. So, I understand from context that “neo-liberal ” was attached to the G8, WTO, and “Davos man” by their critics, but what does it mean? Similarly, “market fundamentalism” seems to mean that any government intervention in the economy is acceptable because the markets will re-equilibriate. Thus, the real estate bubble is blamed on “market fundamentalism.”

    Similarly, it is still easy to find those who claim that the former USSR did not have “real” communism nonetheless accepting that the USA does have real capitalism. Even after Ayn Rand rescued the term, many libertarians objected to “capitalism” preferring “free enterprise” or “private enterprise.” After all, capitalism is the rule of society by those who own the means of production. Even if we grant that everyone owns the ability to produce, what is “society” and why should anyone “rule” it? On another board, I just went around with an Objectivist friend who finds no consonance for Deirdre McCloskey’s “bourgeois” virtues, seeing only the negatives in that soubriquet.

  • 5. Avi Mulye  |  28 May 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Neoliberalism as a synonym of market fundamentalism is actually pretty accurate when one takes liberalism in the US meaning of the term, not the continental (classical) liberal meaning.

    I agree with this. In India every time the Govt. attempts to open up the economy – the socialists/communists use the term “neoliberal economic policies”.

  • 6. Jongwook Kim  |  30 May 2011 at 1:24 am

    A very entertaining take on our “faith” in markets from the Economist:

  • 7. David Hoopes  |  1 June 2011 at 10:56 am

    I suppose I’m preaching to the choir. But, my faith is in the ability of individuals to make their own decisions.

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