Review: One Market Under God–Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy (Paperback)

4 Star, Capitalism (Good & Bad)

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Amazon Page

Solid thoughtful, nails our national policy failures in a big way,

August 2, 2006
Thomas Frank
This is a very serious book, one that any candidate for President would do well to read, especially so the centrist candidates willing to announce that both the Democratic and Republican parties have sold the public into slavery to corporate fascism.

In summary, the author documents in detail how the Reagan Revolution, and especially the firing of the air traffic controllers and the wrongful use of military air traffic controllers as “union busting” scabs, eliminated the counter-vailing force of labor unions, at the same time that government deregulated and abdicated its responsibility for a social safety net, the media converted into advertising with a “news hole,” and corporations lost all moral and social standards.

He deconstructs the “New Economy” in persuasive detail and caused me to re-evaluate some of my earlier readings, especially of Kevin Kelly and others in the WIRED generation who articulate with blind faith the democratic value of the network, but fail to see, as Robert Samuelson and this author would have us understand, that outsourcing is union busting, and the actual effect of the network has been to make it possible for corporations to outsource middle class jobs while importing poverty through illegal immigration. The net loser is the Nation, because one of its most important sources of national power, an educated engaged citizenry, is being sold short.

The author is brutally on target when he points out that corporations have achieved a slight of hand in disconnecting labor from the value of created wealth, claiming much more management value (to the point that CEOs make 400 to 1000 times what their workers make, up from 25 times long ago). He also points out that the democratization of the stock market is code for what Mark Lewis called, in “Liar’s Poker,” “exploding the client. The smart money rides the early surge and then sells out to the middle class dreamers, who end up losing 80-90% of their value over time.

I have a note in the flyleaf that this book is “quite extraordinary, almost breathtaking in scope, with a compelling array of well-ordered facts.”

Overall, while many will not like the term “corporate fascism” and the author prefers to use “extreme capitalism” while others discuss immoral and predatory capitalism, or “class war” (see my review of Faux’s “The Global Class War” and, somewhat less solid but still good, Pabast’s “Armed Madhouse” (dispatches from the front lines of the global class war). The sorry reality is that Americans have been lulled to sleep like sheep for a slaughter, and do not seem to appreciate the fact that there has been a MASSIVE theft of public capital through what this author calls “the Wall Street tax” on America.

The greatest strength of the book is how the author documents the calculated and comprehensive manner in which Wall Street and the evangelical right came together to turn reality on its head, and persuade everyone including blue collar workers that it was okay to break the social contract with labor, and that what is good for Wall Street is good for America and its workers. In fact, as the author points out repeatedly, when workers get laid off, Wall Street stocks go up. His entire review reminds one of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s classic “Manufacturing Consent.” Public relations has been used in a classic manner by American corporations, to include penetration of teen-age sub-cultures and the manipulation of teen-age desires. In Europe they consider public relations to be, according to this author, advanced corporate lying.

The author draws an excellent connection between the “blind faith” that keeps the corporate illusion of free trade on the table, and the “blind faith” that led Dick Cheney to depose George Bush and invade Iraq without regard to the policy process, accountability, or reality. America is in the grip of a very destructive combination of corporate ideology, religious ideology, and political ideology.

The author is properly and comprehensively critical of the media for failing to do its job. Journalists, a few exceptions aside, have become “filler.” The author excels at picking Tom Friedman apart, and at mocking the Wall Street Journal for idiocy in print.

The book ends on a sobering note, where the author points out that reality has a way of unmasking ideological pretensions in a most painful manner. He specifically suggests that George Bush Junior (he does not mention Cheney) will go the way of Herbert Hoover in the history books. Reality–that’s what one White House staffer is reported to have said had no relevance, because this White House “creates its own reality.” Yes it does–a reality of greed and theft and immorality at the top, poverty and disease at the bottom, and a loss of American honor around the world.

First class thinking and writing. A really strong book.

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