Thursday, May 11, 2006

The World Of The Free

The World Of The Free

"The permanent revolution of the free market denies any authority to the past. It nullifies precedent, it snaps the threads of memory and scatters local knowledge. By privileging individual choice over any common good it tends to make relationships revocable and provisional. In a culture in which choice is the only undisputed value and wants are held to be insatiable, what is the difference between initiating a divorce and trading in a used car? The logic of the free market, which is that all relationships become consumer goods, is denied indignantly by its ideologues. However, it is all too clearly evident in the daily life of societies in which the free market is dominant."

John Gray, "False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism"

As a supported of free markets, I disagree with Gray's analysis. It is certainly possible for free market societies to focus solely on consumerism, and I won't deny that our current culture has moved further in that direction, but I believe that 1) if this is the cost of our freedom, I'm willing to pay it, and that 2) society will break through and be able to value the past with open eyes, rather than blindly pining for the good old days.

What do you think?


Ben Casnocha said...

Gray is a good writer and eloquent critic of free markets and globalization.

I don't see how your #2 responds to Gray. I don't think this has to do with pining for the good old days, as much as saying that everything is being reduced to the common denominator and relationships are just another good. He would prefer to elevate a "relationship" above a used car transaction.

Chris said...

By definition, if you say that everything is being reduced to the common denominator, there must have been a previous (presumably superior) state.

And if you're saying that the previous state is better than the current state, well, that sure sounds like pining for the good old days to me.