Capitalism: The Conservative Illusion

        —“If a temple is to be erected, a temple must be destroyed.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche

When the Cold War ended in 1991, American conservatives rejoiced over the triumph of democratic capitalism, which had struggled for over half a century, first against the rise of fascism, and then against the Soviet bloc and the specter of global communism.  The collapse of the Soviet state seemed irrefutable proof that laissez-faire economics was destined, by the “invisible hand” that guides human history, to become an engine of liberty and prosperity that would encircle the globe and generate a new era of peace and stability—a vindication, if you will, of the historical optimism of Adam Smith and the endless stream of his disciples (in North America, at least), whose enthusiasm over Smithian theodicy sometimes resembled the frenzied gyrations of Pentecostal snake charmers.  The rise of the Asian Tigers and the stupendous productivity of Chinese capitalism seemed further vindication, though the cheerleaders for global capital were notably reluctant to concede that these economic “miracles” had little to do with laissez-faire doctrines and a great deal to do with the fact that American workers were bearing the brunt of mounting trade deficits, even as American consumers (those who still had decent jobs) glutted themselves...

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