The collapse of Communism as a political system sounded the death knell for Marxism as an ideology. But while laissez-faire capitalism has been a monumental failure in practice, and soundly defeated at the polls, the ideology is still alive and kicking.
The only place you can find an American Marxist these days is teaching a college linguistic theory class. But you can find all manner of free market fundamentalists still on the Senate floor or in Governor's mansions or showing up on TV trying to peddle the deregulation snake oil.
If a politician announced he was running on a platform of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" he would be laughed off the stage. That is also the correct response to anyone who continues to make the case that markets do best when left alone.
It's time to drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism by treating it like the discredited ideology it inarguably is.
In a comprehensive piece on what led to the mortgage crisis and the subsequent financial meltdown, the New York Times shows how the Bush administration's devotion to unregulated markets was a primary cause of our economy to ruin. But the otherwise fascinating piece puts too much focus on the "mistakes" the Bush team made by not paying attention to the warning signs popping up all around them.
"There is no question we did not recognize the severity of the problems," claimed Al Hubbard, Bush's former chief economic adviser. "Had we, we would have attacked them."
But the mistake wasn't in not recognizing the "severity of the problems" -- the mistake was the ideology that led to the problems. Communism didn't fail because Soviet leaders didn't execute it well enough. Same with free market fundamentalism. In fact, Bush and his team did a bang-up job executing a defective theory. The problem wasn't just the bathwater; the baby itself is rotten to the core.
Monday, December 22, 2008
It's time to bury laissez faire
Thus spake Arianna: