Saturday, October 18, 2008

Suppression: markets, or freedom?

Thomas Walkom: The great question that remains is what the U.S. will do. It's never been the pure private-enterprise nation that it claims to be. Historically, government has played a key role in American economic development and continues to do so, usually under the guise of military spending.

But more than any other nation, America cleaves to the ideology of free markets... a deep-seated belief in market capitalism that is central to the American world view.

Logically, as a democratic nation, the U.S. should favour social capitalism over its more authoritarian counterpart. But as the presidency of George W. Bush has demonstrated, there is an anti-democratic, anti-civil libertarian strain in American thinking that clever politicians can easily exploit.

Faced with a choice between suppressing markets to encourage freedom or suppressing freedom to encourage markets, what would Americans do? Would they really follow the road of China rather than, say, Sweden?

It's hard to imagine. But then it was hard to imagine the nation that produced the formidable U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights rallying behind Bush when he authorized torture, illegal war and the obscene prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Image source here.