The Cult of Market Fundamentalism

A “classic” for the Fourth of July. While Trump doesn’t follow the dogma exactly when it comes to free trade (for better or worse, probably worse), he and most Republicans in Congress do seem to be true believers in this peculiar form of witchcraft (no disrespect intended to Wiccan readers).

The first step of confronting the problem is to name it. “Market fundamentalism,” a term I picked up from George Lakoff, should be a buzzphrase on the tips of everyone’s lips. It has become THE defining force — paired with racism — of Americans’ economic lives. Pundits and Democratic politicians should be throwing this concept around, ridiculing it like the joke it is. Instead, we’re fixated on the right-wing term ”political correctness,” which blinds us to the real problems facing America. Swap these two out and you change the playing field.


  • InheritTheWindow

    I see as much villainization of free trade from the left as I do reverence from the right. Free trade is a component of capitalism, which is objectively the most successful institution for creating wealth and improving lives in modern history (this is true despite the problems with poorly regulated capitalism).

    Yes, trade can be destructive to communities and industries, but never without major improvement elsewhere. It’s our responsibility to use the extra wealth to take care of the people who are displaced, and that’s where our abject failure lies.

    • ACounter

      Do you have a source for your assertion that capitalism is “objectively the most successful institution for creating wealth and improving lives in modern history?”
      And I don’t mean the Wall Street Journal.

      • InheritTheWindow

        I looked around for a tidy source and couldn’t find one. But I challenge you to name another institution that has done a better job at creating wealth and improving living standards than capitalism. And yes, this applies to all members of a society, from bottom to top. The people at the bottom don’t fall further behind, they just improve more slowly.

        Yes, capitalism needs to be helped along by supportive governments, but the underlying source of wealth and improvement in living standards comes from capitalism. Even generally socialist governments like the Scandinavian countries rely on it.

        Jen’s cartoon is accurate insofar as free market fundamentalists practically deify capitalism, which usually leads to the misguided stance that all regulation is bad regulation. I don’t agree with that at all! But especially since Occupy Wall St I have seen the reverse train of thought emerging from the left: that the free market, especially free trade, is harmful. I don’t agree with this either.

    • Viktor DoKaren

      First, apart from the words “free your trade”, I don’t see anything in this strip that is a “villainization of free trade”. It’s obviously lampooning the “cult of capitalism” which is not limited to a ‘left’ or ‘right’. While I cannot speak for all of the “left”, I do not believe there is any serious complaint about “free trade”; the problem is this “free trade” is not so free. And the “cult of capitalism” is preventing us from reasonable discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of capitalism. Any system based more on ideology than effectiveness is seriously flawed.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.