Apostles of Greed: Capitalism and the Myth of the Individual in the Market
Contains Bibliography, Index
Jane M. Wilson is a Toronto-based chartered financial analyst in the
Political leaders today espouse free trade and deregulated markets and
profess to follow the tenets of Adam Smith, neoclassical economists, and
their modern apostles Friedman and Hayek. After revisiting their
writings, Engler finds the neoconservative movement guilty of economic
sophistry in ignoring both the earlier scholars’ caveats about the
capitalist system and the transformation in society in the last century.
In some concordance with John Ralston Saul, Engler says, “competitive
individualism has the status of a national ideology, but economic life
is actually administered by corporate oligopolies.” The book is
unstinting in its criticism of corporate excesses. Engler accuses
politicians of abnegating their responsibility for regulation in favor
of free-market forces, though he attributes economic inequities not
directly to free markets, but to an imbalance between the rights of
labor and those of capital owners. While all this may be dreary dogma,
it is very much advanced by his discussion of capital mobility. The role
of deregulated international capital markets in subverting the law of
comparative advantage and defeating the objectives of free trade is one
of the book’s most important observations.
Engler’s proposed remedies, which are reminiscent of E.F.
Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful, are disappointingly inchoate as to
execution. Nonetheless, his work will certainly compel us to reconsider
whether democracy, unfettered capitalism, and free markets are
compatible doctrines or unstable, opposing forces.