In a book that has been raising hackles far and wide, the social critic Thomas Frank skewers one of the most sacred cows of the go-go '90s: the idea that the new free-market economy is good for everyone.
Frank's target is "market populism"--the widely held belief that markets are a more democratic form of organization than democratically elected governments. Refuting the idea that billionaire CEOs are looking out for the interests of the little guy, he argues that "the great euphoria of the late nineties was never as much about the return of good times as it was the giddy triumph of one America over another." Frank is a latter-day Mencken, as readers of his journal The Baffler and his book The Conquest of Cool know. With incisive analysis, passionate advocacy, and razor-sharp wit, he asks where we?re headed-and whether we're going to like it when we get there.
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After nearly a decade of bull markets, Americans have come to equate free markets with democracy. Never one for mincing words, social critic Thomas Frank, editor of The Baffler and author of The Conquest of Cool, challenges this myth. With his acerbic wit and contempt for sophistry, he declares the New Economy a fraud. Frank scours business literature, management theory, and marketing and advertising to expose the elaborate fantasies that have inoculated business against opposition. This public relations campaign joins an almost mystical belief in markets, a contempt for government in any form, and an "ecstatic" confusion of markets with democracy. Frank traces the roots of this movement from the 1920s, and sees its culmination in market populism as a fusion of the rebellious '60s with the greedy '80s. The overarching irony is the swapping of roles--suddenly Wall Street is no longer full of stodgy moneygrubbers, but cool entrepreneurs "leaping on their trampolines, typing out a few last lines on the laptop before paragliding, riding their bicycles to work, listening to Steppenwolf while they traded." Meanwhile, "Americans traded their long tradition of electoral democracy for the democracy of the supermarket, where all brands are created equal and endowed by their creators with all sorts of extremeness and diversity." Frank's close reading of the salesmen of market populism nails such financial gurus as George Gilder, Joseph Nocera, Kevin Kelly, and Thomas Friedman. Their writings, he contends, have served to make "the world safe for billionaires" by winning the cultural and political battle--legitimizing the corporate culture and its demands for privatization, deregulation, and non-interference. Frank's incisive prose verges on brilliant at times, though his yen for repetition can be exasperating. In either case, his boisterous reminder that markets are fundamentally not democracies is worth repeating as the level of wealth polarization in America reaches heights not seen since the 1920s. --Lesley ReedFrom the Inside Flap:
One Market Under God is a cogent, fiercely entertaining, and often scathing assault on the institutions and pretensions of the new capitalist order and the tyranny of the almighty market.
At no other moment in American history have the values of business and the corporation been more nakedly and arrogantly in the ascendant. In One Market Under God, social critic Thomas Frank examines the morphing of the language of American democracy into the cant and jargon of the marketplace. Combining popular intellectual history with a survey of recent business culture, Frank traces an idea he calls "market populism"-the notion that markets are, in some transcendent way, identifiable with democracy and the will of the people. The belief that any criticism of things as they are is elitist can be seen in management literature, where downsizing and ceaseless, chaotic change are celebrated as victories for democracy; in advertising, where an endless array of brands seek to position themselves as symbols of authenticity and rebellion; on Wall Street, where the stock market is identified as the domain of the small investor and common man; in newspaper publishing, where the vogue for focus-group-guided "civic journalism" is eroding journalistic independence and initiative; and in the right-wing politics of the 1990s and the popular social theories of George Gilder, Lester Thurow, and Thomas Friedman.
Frank's counterattack against the onslaught of market propaganda is mounted with the weapons of common sense, a genius for useful ridicule, and the older American values of economic justice and political democracy. Lucid and intellectually probing, One Market Under God is tinged with anger, betrayal, and a certain hope for the future.
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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 132 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. In a book that has been raising hackles far and wide, the social critic Thomas Frank skewers one of the most sacred cows of the go-go 90s: the idea that the new free-market economy is good for everyone. Frank s target is market populism --the widely held belief that markets are a more democratic form of organization than democratically elected governments. Refuting the idea that billionaire CEOs are looking out for the interests of the little guy, he argues that the great euphoria of the late nineties was never as much about the return of good times as it was the giddy triumph of one America over another. Frank is a latter-day Mencken, as readers of his journal The Baffler and his book The Conquest of Cool know. With incisive analysis, passionate advocacy, and razor-sharp wit, he asks where we?re headed-and whether we re going to like it when we get there. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780385495042
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Book Description Anchor. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0385495048 In a trenchant, frequently scathing critique of the new capitalism order, a noted social critic condemns "market populism"--the new business culture that identifies markets with democracy and the will of the people--and the right-wing politics of the 1990s and calls for a return to the older American values of economic justice and political democracy. Reprint. 25,000 first printing. Bookseller Inventory # 4747641
Book Description Anchor. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 0385495048