Mammon and Managed Markets

Jeff Tucker lets off a little steam here. HT: David Field.

But since I have linked to the von Mises site, let me just say something about secular economic libertarianism. There are two points to make about it. First, it is an idol. Second, it is an idol that virtually no one bows down to.

The purist capitalists in the world today, all fifteen of them, are tempted to serve an ideological idol. Put another way, when a secularist argues for pure capitalism, and he believes in it fervently, instead of believing in Jesus, he is worshipping an idol. But it is an intellectual idol. This is not the worship of money, but rather the worship of an idea.

But the imperious demands of the market today, the whooping and hollering for Mammon on Wall Street, are demands that are offered on behalf of a highly regulated and managed economy. In short, what we have got going here in America is not capitalism, but rather a mutant form of mercantilism. It is easy to make fun of our capitalist fat cats, like those who show up in the movies. The problem is that not one of us has ever met one. They are virtually extinct. The words capitalist and businessman are not synonyms.

A secularist like Ayn Rand who wants property rights to inhere (magically) in the individual is an ideological idolater. The mammonic idolater is far more likely to be out on a golf course in the DC area, smoking cigars and schmoozing with federal regulators, and cutting back nine deals that would effectively squelch any potential competition.

If there is no God, we have no reason to prefer the grasping rights of individual man in the market over the grasping rights of collective man in the legislature. Just go with what gets you the most money. In other words the capitalist ideological idol fails just as the mercantilist idol of big money. If we wanted Jesus to be the Lord of managed markets, then we would need economic priests. If we want Jesus to be the Lord of unmanaged markets, as I do, then we don’t need a priestly class. We can just let ‘er rip and let God sort it out.

People don’t want to do this because they believe that the fat cats will walk all over them. But the fats cats do that now; they are experts at using the mechanisms of regulation to get whatever they want. The fat cats despise genuinely free markets because it generates the only true accountability they will ever get. So the market ought to be kept out of the hands of regulators, managers, and federally-mandated ninnyhammers because it is not a collection of impersonal forces. The market is personal, not impersonal. But the personality resident in it is way beyond the capacity of any bureaucrat to even begin to comprehend. The market needs to be left in the hands of God because under the wisdom of God, the only possible bridle for the excesses of capitalism is unbridled capitalism.

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