The myth of the market.
Discussions of ideological polarization can be oddly comforting. They imply that politics is an honest battle of ideas rather than an amoral competition between transient lobbying coalitions driven by material self-interest. They also flatter the sensibilities of professional intellectuals. Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway’s The Big Myth promises a different perspective, examining the role of business interests in creating and promoting the ideological constellation now known as “neoliberalism” or “market fundamentalism.” The authors, a professor of history at Harvard and a historian of science and technology working for the California Institute of Technology, respectively, suggest that seemingly entrenched intellectual traditions and deep philosophical commitments are little more than the propaganda of 20th-century corporate lobbies.
At over 500 pages, The Big Myth is big, and in some respects remarkably thorough. Yet the book offers few original insights and falls far short of the ambitions of its subtitle—explaining How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market. The unique contribution it advertises—examining the specific role of business in advancing certain policies and ideologies—is almost completely forgotten as the book’s history approaches the present. Oreskes and Conway do reveal several
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