Market Fundamentalism: A Word to Us All

An interview with George Soros appeared in the June 2008 edition of Money magazine. Though brief, the interview was both fascinating and useful, as Soros explained why the current financial crisis is so bad and what it means for, well, everyone.

What’s striking, though, is a phrase Soros introduces midway through the interview. He says that since the eighties, “the global financial system has been dominated by an ideology I call ‘market fundamentalism.’” Soros goes on to explain what he means by this—the idea that markets run perfectly, that government interference will always impair them, and so on. In short, he uses it to refer to a consciously committed laissez-faire capitalism.

It’s a beautiful phrase because it damns the position in two words. Just as no one would doubt the commitment of religious fundamentalists but might doubt their grasp of history, scripture, etc., so no one would doubt the commitment of market fundamentalists. However, one might well doubt how well-informed they are, if their interpretations are based on reality rather than ideology, and so on.

And of course, the term cries out for a counterpart, something like market Satanism or, to be kinder, market atheism: a range of positions held by some on the left that all hinge on the belief that market forces cannot solve social problems and that government solutions are always better (and necessary). Both positions fire at one another or, rather, past one another during debates over things like minimum wage laws. Do they ever find a shared reality? Do they ever look for one?

Thank you, Mr. Soros, for this fine phrase.

1 comment to Market Fundamentalism: A Word to Us All

  • Soros is one of those billionaires who blame the system that made them successful. If Soros thinks he was immoral for taking all of that money, he should relinquish it and live in poverty. If he doesn’t think that he was immoral in making that money, then he should quit being a hypocrite.

    Soros is a wealthy socialist who thinks he knows how to spend your money better than you do. He should be given zero credibility.

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