Review: The Marketing of Evil–How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom (Hardcover)

4 Star, Capitalism (Good & Bad)

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Ideologically biased with useful information, other books recommended,

August 2, 2006
David Kupelian
Edit of 26 Oct 06: for two excellent books that show there are two sides to any argument, see Mel White's Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right and Reverend Barry Lynn's Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom.

I have a taken a strong interest in immoral predatory capitalism and the cheating culture (see my reviews of Grieder The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy and Callahan, The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead among others) so when I saw this title, I was not only reminded of Lionel Tiger's path-finding work, Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System but also quite taken by the sub-title.

The book loses one star because it is an evangelical Christian tract that lacks depth (each of 10 chapters on 10 evils appears based on 1-2 key sources, with some “ibids” running over ten times in a row), and it is oblivious to a much larger serious literature such as Shattuck's Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography which makes this book look like a high school rant, or John Paul Ralston's Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.

There is a lot of good in the book, and it fully merits reading and reflection. Seen in its best light, the author has brilliantly compiled “conventional wisdom” within the hard-corps Christian right, and neatly packaged screeds against gay rights, church-state separation, violence, sex, multicultural madness (i.e. mixed marriages and the loss of the white majority), family meltdown, bad schools, media as myth, abortion, and of course white American Christianity as the last best hope for America.

In comparison with Thomas Frank's One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy, this book is both lightweight and oblivious to larger strategic realities, but it is never-the-less quite a good means of understanding the filter through which white Christians on the hard right see the world.

The author loses credibility with well-read readers when he lambastes the gays and ignores biological evidence that we all start as women and evolve toward being men in the womb. Those that make it three quarters of the way are gay men; those that make it one quarter of the way are gay women. That is of course of grotesque simplification of a complex scientific and medical literature, but the point is that being gay is biological, and we can no more prosecute gays that we can prosecute people with diabetes or cancer.

The author is also overly dependent on the extreme right and evangelical Christian literature, and much too quick to accept “statistics” that are articulated as facts, for example, that 45% of America attends church regularly. Not in my world. In my world, they are sleeping late, out driving their Harleys (in Middle America nice normal people drive Harleys, not gangs), playing golf, or mowing the lawn.

The greatest weakness of the book, but not sufficient to take it down to three stars, is that while the author rails against radicals, elitists, and pseudo-experts, he fails to identify them by name. This is the politics of fear, the politics of creating a boogey-man to blame our problems on. To really understand this weakness, see the other book I review today, Frank's One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy where I detail that author's more compelling and more authoritative discussion of how Wall Street and the evangelical right came together to destroy labor unions, baseline government, and informed media, all in the name of a “free market” that ostensibly promotes democracy in passing.

Of the two books, Frank's is the better value, and receives five stars.

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