Achieving a truly free market is not done by taking advantage of catastrophe, or by tearing down in order to build up. Yet through exactly such tearing down, referred to by author Naomi Klein as "The Shock Doctrine", the United States has promulgated a counterfeit version of the free market that has given freedom in general a bad name.
The Soviet Union was a powerful machine, but it was much less powerful than American foreign policy gave it credit for. Based on a fraudulent representation of the Soviet Threat in the western hemisphere, the free market has come to have an undeserved bad name. As a result, nearly all of the American foreign policy that was conducted in the name of free markets was actually conducted to the advantage of the elite, both in and out of government.
We got ourselves into our current mess by countering the Brezhnev Doctrine with what we might call the "Nixon Doctrine", wherein the US allegedly protected the free market in Latin America against the supposed Soviet bogeyman, but what it really did was protect the "rights" of elite American corporations at the expense of the general populaces of those countries. It is hard for us to complain about the use of force when we have grown accustomed to using force ourselves. America would be in a much more healthy situation today domestically if historically our foreign policy had been about persuasion rather than force.
As a result of America's misanthropic foreign policy, today's national political climate can be divided into two large factions (with a substantial and growing minority that subscribes to neither false doctrine):
1. Those who gain political advantage by claiming to believe that the power of government should be used to force the equality of all people through government control.
2. Those who gain political advantage by claiming that the power of government should be used to force the equality of all people through the use of supposed free markets.
Although many people reflexively believe that faction #2 described above authentically supports a free market, in reality, neither faction does. (I am beginning to think that the recent Tea Parties across America are a reaction of more and more people to the realization that neither major political party advocates a truly free market.)
Equality cannot be achieved through force. Neither can freedom. The greater "sin", however, lies on the heads of those who aggrandize themselves on the backs of those whom they have tried to convince that freedom can be compelled. Like their counterparts in compulsion, they have failed.
In a masterful way, Naomi Klein, in her most recent book, The Shock Doctrine castigates these faux free marketeers:
The role of the government in this unending war is not that of an administrator managing a network of contractors, but of a deep-pocketed venture capitalist.Klein refers to the phenomenon as "The Shock Doctrine" because the malevolent destroyers of market have learned to quickly seize upon catastrophe in order to remake society in their image. Examples of such shocks--whether manufactured or exploited--range from the military takeover by Augusto Pinochet of Chile in 1973, the Chinese massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, the attacks on America on 9/11, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the "Shock and Awe" used by the George W. Bush administration in attempt to beat the entire Iraqi population into abject submission to their American overlords.
When the long-awaited disaster strikes, they know instantly that their moment has come at last. Best understood as a "disaster capitalism" complex, it has much farther reaching tentacles than the military-industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned against... This is a global war fought on every level by private companies whose involvement is paid for with public money...A correct understanding of the seeming but non-existent dichotomy of American foreign policy history over the last few decades gives us great insight into current controversies, such as the economic collapse of 2008 and the health care debate of 2009. It has been decades since the main debate has been between government force and freedom of choice. Instead, nearly every American alive today has been force fed their entire lives with a constant dialectical diet of two competing methods of government coercion.
A more accurate term for this system that erases the boundaries between Big Government and Big Business is not liberal, conservative, or capitalist, but corporatist. Its main characteristics are huge transfers of public wealth to private hands, often accompanied by exploding debt, an ever-widening chasm between the dazzling rich and the disposable poor, and an aggressive nationalism that justifies bottomless spending on security.
It would be as refreshing as a pool of spring water if actual free market principles could become once again a part of the political debate in America. That won't happen, however, until America rids itself of a substantial majority of both sides of the fake debate we thought we'd been having all these years.
It is time to quit voting for a candidate from the Party of the Lesser of Two Evils. It's time to give freedom a chance.