Friday, December 30, 2011

Faith In The Market?

Many people nowadays subscribe to the notion that the market is a great and supreme power outside of ourselves, and that rules are anathema to its operation.  They treat this conviction as religious doctrine.  They also tend to belong to the same near theocratic contingent of the polity known as the religious right.  And they are as fervent about one religious view as the other.

But when these two elements of their worldview are subjected to scrutiny, a great divergence is revealed. They display unshakable faith in the omnipotence of one religious object, and nothing but doubt and worry regarding the actual power of the other. The codification of  strictures for appropriate conduct in one sphere does nothing to diminish its power to inform and enrich human life. But in the other, any requirement for humane conduct is seen ironically as a lethal threat to its capacity to provide for our well being.

Think of it this way: If the Children of God had not received the Tablets from the hand of Moses, they would have been destined to wander forever, blindly suffering self-inflicted cruelty after cruelty, insensible to the relief and comforts of God's infinite mercy.  Rules certainly did not diminish the power and beneficence of their God, but served to enlarge both.  Remember, in the beginning there was but one rule; and that was proven so easy to play the devil with, that any snake could quickly do the job.  What is more, imagine how Divine guidance might have been expanded at the time of the Tablets to include such admonitions as: Thou shalt not own slaves, Thou shall not make war, and Thou shall not shun the leper.  Would the Children of God have seen Him as a greater or a lesser God as a result?  Who doesn't know the answer?  Indeed, in time all of these ideas have come to be accepted as worthy precepts for the moral conduct of life by these same Children of God.  Of course, they are also often ignored, but that is another matter.

Now to the Market.   The doctrinaire right see it as an inviolable and pristine beacon in an otherwise dark and perilous economic sea.  They have absolute faith in it, they say.  But in reality, they see it as susceptible to mortal failure from human contact. They exhibit fear and trepidation that any rule restraining or seeking to offset our base and willful instincts will destroy its capacity to provide us with abundant life. Experience has shown the opposite is true, just as in their other religious area of concern.  What we suffer from is an insufficiency of rules to govern our relationships under a market economy.  It has been shown how easily the devil can be played with the present ones.  The dynamism of the market is not threatened by our efforts to insure that none is super empowered and none left destitute by its operation, nor any supremely exalted while others are abused.  Just as The Children of God were told to go forth, be fruitful, and multiply in accordance with the proper code of conduct, the participants in a market economy can likewise invest, be productive, and prosper when the appropriate rules are in place and observed.

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