Thomas Frank

BOOKS » One Market Under God



One Market Under God
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All the idiocies of an idiotic era, collected and mocked between two attractively designed covers. Or: An intellectual history of a decade in which it was a very bad time to be an intellectual. Or: A dissection of the “New Economy” and of that era’s dumbest and yet proudest idea–market populism, the notion that markets are fundamentally democratic. Here you will find:

  • Corporations comparing themselves to God. Corporations comparing themselves to rock stars, to the civil rights movement, and to the French Revolution. Why entrepreneurs deserve your worship. And why very rich people are simply very ordinary people, writ very very large.
  • Wall Street gurus proclaiming that the stock market was a site of social protest. That mutual funds were the vox populi, only better. That little old ladies in Beardstown, IL were better stock pickers than the people at Goldman Sachs. That the Dow was headed irresistibly to 36,000, and that this was a tribute to the genius of the common man. And: that anyone who doubted the Dow was an enemy of the People.
  • Management theorists declaring that they were in fact revolutionaries. Management theorists getting all weepy-woo about the many mystic mysteries of the corporation. Declaring that corporations were sites of self-realization and rampant nonconformity. That corporations were living beings, on a higher order than we humans. That corporations were tender little children, naive and guileless. That when corporations threw us all out of work, polluted our environment, bribed our lawmakers, and all the rest of it, it was nothing to worry about, since the corporation was a being of such rare spirituality and innocence and rebelliousness and even holiness.
  • Why all of this stuff was also the irresistible logic of history, bearing down on us by some sort of cyber-Hegelian process that we were powerless to change.

Plus:

  • Cultural studies professors loudly proclaiming their radicalism but utterly missing the boat. And:
  • Journalists doing the same.

Here is the first and longest excerpt from the book. It was the cover story for The Nation for October 30, 2000.

The chapter about the blindness of cultural studies has been revised, rewritten, and reprinted as one of the excellent Prickly Paradigm series.

Another excerpt appeared in the Industry Standard for October 16, 2000. It was called “Karl Marx’s Turnkey Solution” and it was about red-baiting in management theory (IBM is communist!) as well as the use of thinly disguised Marxist language (deregulation is inevitable because of the laws of history!) by certain New Economy theorists. Unfortunately, the Industry Standard crashed with the dot-coms, and its archives are no longer available online.

There was also an excerpt in the New Statesman for January 8, 2001 called “Markets R Us.” It was very attractively illustrated, but you have to pay them in order to read it online.

Some reviews of One Market Under God

Two early ones that appeared in the tangerine-colored pages of the New York Observer by Nicholas von Hoffman — and Ron Rosenbaum.

One that appeared on the cover of Kirkus.

The American Prospect weighs in.

A feature story about the book in The New York Times.

Molly Ivins writes about One Market Under God in her syndicated column.

James Galbraith reviews One Market Under God for Washington Monthly.

Michael Berube in Common Review.

Mike Davis in the Village Voice.

Other reviews worth reading but which are not available (easily) online:

Andrew Hill in the Financial Times (!), December 12, 2000.
David Ulin in the Chicago Tribune, December 17, 2000.
Andy Beckett in The Guardian, January 13, 2001.
John Gray (!) in the London Independent, January 6, 2001.
Tim Adams in the London Observer, February 4, 2001.
Naomi Klein in the New Statesman, February 5, 2001.