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One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism and the End of Economic Democracy Paperback – 7 Feb 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (7 Feb. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099422247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099422242
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,120,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

After nearly a decade of bull markets, we 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--legitimising the corporate culture and its demands for privatisation, 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 polarisation in America reaches heights not seen since the 1920s. --Lesley Reed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A passionate, bracingly irreverent and always hugely readable lexicon of the political cant of the past decade" (Independent)

"A dazzling manifesto for the anticapitalist movement... A seductive mixture of wit and polemic" (Observer)

"A brilliant, bracing slice and dice job on the pop culture of the New Economy" (New York Observer)

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Hilarious but horrifying, this is everything How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World (see review before last) was not - intellectually exciting, witty, deliciously readable - and angry. Mumbo, published four years later and grandly subtitled a history (it is nothing of the sort) already feels more dated. (It still sells. I am holding the 19th impression. Clearly Francis Wheen tapped into the zeitgeist, today's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas community.) Unlike Wheen, Frank addresses the theory behind neoliberalism, aka post-'89 hubris. 'Markets are where we are most fully human.' That dreaded concept 'choice'*! 'Embrace the laissez-faire way.. like Madonna and Benetton, Pepsi and Prince.' 'If 'a visionary geo-architect' were to design the ultimate nation, he would insist it had 'the most flexible labor market in the world'. Beside this triumphalist claptrap Frank's language is both temperate** - perhaps too temperate - and acute. Preachy? Sure, but unlike Wheen, he's a crusader; Wheen prefers giggling smugly from the sidelines

The world-view Frank describes will segue all too seamlessly into Karl Rove's breathtaking 2003 words to journalist Ron Suskind: 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.' No doubt, Karl - just not in the way you think. History has a way of having the last laugh

* The closest Wheen gets is the chairman of Enron's reply when asked what Jesus would do if he ran a power utility. 'He wanted people to have the freedom to make choices' (Mumbo p278)

** Wheen, by contrast, resorts to language like 'drooling epigones' - guess his title should have warned us
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Format: Kindle Edition
The catchpenny, combative, Michael-Mooreish title (what has God got to do with anything?) should not deceive; this is a breath of fresh air after the fog of [see previous]. Style sample: 'Ross Perot.. bounced onto the national stage complete with a grassroots movement he had built in his garage.' Both hair-raising and indecently enjoyable, this is everything Mumbo is not - intellectually exciting, witty, closely argued -- and angry. Unlike Francis Wheen, Tom Frank expects us to know who people are, or be able to look it up. (Wheen panders; he both condescends with pseudo-scholarship and spoonfeeds.) Though Wheen at least has the decency to quote from Frank, you should just see the excerpt he uses! Coming a full four years after, it's Wheen who now looks opportunist, cheap and tired. I concede Frank is also preaching mainly to the converted, but in an altogether more purposeful way than Wheen's fatuously self-congratulatory and all-levelling sneer; Frank's aim is to enlighten
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By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this brilliant deconstruction, Thomas Frank uncovers the real interests behind the free marker evangel, which was sold as a pillar of democracy by partisan media and aggressive advertisers.

The market evangel
Free marketeers pretended that a free market is a more democratic system than an elected government and that free markets and democracy are identical. Markets give people what they want. The laissez-faire way is the most committed to the will and the interests of the people. Governments have no rights over markets.

The heart of the market matter
Markets are interested in profits, and only in profits. The logic of business (corporations) is monopoly, market share, revenues, margins and profits.
Markets are fundamentally not democratic: what good is for business (the few), is bad for workers (the many). Markets reward those companies which downsize (cutting costs by massive lay-offs).
Higher prices and fat commissions are the only interests of mass participation in the stock market.

Management gospel, advertising, brands, media
In a patently false language of euphoria, corporations were sold as superhuman democratic creatures, giving people what they wanted. Consumerism was explained as the perfect expression of human liberation. Brands were hailed as models for personal life. Advertising combined brands with social justice (Benetton & anti-racism).
In the media, critical judgment was replaced by `laudatios' for the free market. In the meantime, massive consolidation created media conglomerates which were and are a threat to democracy.
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Format: Hardcover
Noam Chomsky once observed that the US was one of the most ideological societies on earth but this was also what made it so interesting to work there. Thomas Frank, who as editor of left-wing magazine The Baffler has consistently and eloquently chronicled the will to power of America's business class must sometimes have to suppress an author's bubbling sense of glee at such fertile material. His latest book One Market Under God is based on a simple proposition - that during the 1990s, the American public allowed themselves to be seduced into thinking that anything that was good for corporate America was ultimately good for everyone. The results, Frank laments, can been seen in the rampant casualisation of the workplace, the ripping up of the welfare state, the spiralling prison population and the incredible statistic that in 1999 the average income of CEOs was 475 times that of blue collar employees. The ideological tool with which this determined assault on the relatively egalitarian settlement of the 'middle class republic' of the '50s and '60s was carried out, Frank dubs 'market populism'. Ditching the conservative culture wars of the '80s just as the internet boom was beginning to take off, Wall Street and its journalistic outriders embraced the wisdom of the common man. From rebel teenagers to midwestern grandmothers in investment clubs, everyone was seen to be making money from the unstoppable boom of the new economy (partially, though this was seldom mentioned, to compensate for stagnating wages and the decline of social security). The market became the embodiment of the popular will, expressed through consumer preferences and stock options - much more immediate and representative than clunky, once every four years elections.Read more ›
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