Markets, in Their Place

Markets, in Their Place

When historians of ideas go to work on the last decade of the twentieth century, the market will surely appear as one of our intellectual totems. What the Rights of Man were to the French Revolution—or what Manifest Destiny or the quest for the Kingdom of God on Earth were to their times—the market is to our own.

Which is to say, ideas associated with the market are central elements of prevailing ideology. Ideological notions are relentlessly tendentious. Ideologies offer us plausible descriptions of the world and purport to explain why it is as it is—while, simultaneously, surreptitiously exhorting us. If we take them seriously, we cannot help favoring certain courses of action, certain social arrangements, over others. At their most powerful, ideologies are vague and subtle enough to make the image of the world that they convey seem almost unexceptionable. Yet they are relentlessly partisan.

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Lima