Reformed currency speculator George Soros calls the economic dinosaurs "market fundamentalists". I'm uneasy with this term because so few of them are true believers in free markets - preferring monopolies, cartels, and government contracts. But his point is well taken. The idea that the world must be run by the stock market is as mad as any other fundamentalist delusion, Islamic, Christian or Marxist.
In the case of Easter Island, the statue cult became a self-destructive mania. In the United States, market extremism (which one might expect to be purely materialist, and so open to rational self-interest) has cross-bred with evangelical messianism to fight intelligent policy on metaphysical grounds. Mainstream Christianity is an altruistic faith, yet this offshoot is actively hostile to the public good: a kind of social Darwinism by people who hate Darwin.
President Ronald Reagan's secretary of the interior told Congress not to bother with the environment because, in his words: "I don't know how many future generations we can count on until the Lord returns." George W Bush surrounded himself with similar minds and pulled out of the Kyoto Accord on climate change. Adolf Hitler once gleefully exclaimed: "What luck for the rulers that the people do not think!" What can we do when the rulers will not think?
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Ronald Wright, in the Sunday Herald (via Political Theory Daily Review). The comparison with Easter Island is especially fascinating. Please give a read.