Free Market Missionaries

Kay Weir

Pacific Ecologist, Issue 15, Summer 2007/08, p. 43

In this tightly researched and incendiary book, Sharon Beder exposes how community values have been sacrificed by economic and political power brokers, today's free market missionaries, on the altar of free-market economics. Beders shows how throughout the twentieth century business associations and coalitions coordinated mass propaganda campaigns that combined public reatlions techniques developed in twentieth century America with revitalized free-market ideology originating in eighteenth century Europe. The aim was to persuade people it was int heir interests to eschew their own power as workers and citizens, and forego their democratic power to restrain and regulate business activity. These campaigns were augmented during the 1970s and 80s by the more sophisticated efforts of corporate funded think tanks to promote free enterprise and business-friendly policies. Today's free market missionaries seek to change individual and institutional values using bolder strategies such as the expansion of share ownership and the manipulation of wider public concerns. In the end the outcome is the same, the triumph of business values over community values and the manipulation of democracy. This book is an intellectual call-to-arms and the choice is clear: fight back or be converted to the ideology of the corporate free market missionaries.

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