Free Market Capitalism has become the dominant American ideological
truth. The decline of communism opened the door for unrepentant free
marketers to boldly espouse market competition as the final solution for
global harmony. According to the American mantra, if given the
opportunity to freely develop the marketplace will solve all evils. We
will enjoy economic expansion, individual freedom, and unlimited bliss
by fully deregulating and privatizing society’s socio-economic
The recent selection of G.W. Bush as the U.S. President has placed into
power the party that is the strongest supporter of this American mantra.
The business/government revolving-door cabinet will be comprised of more
corporate CEO’s than any presidency in recent history. The new
government elite will work to see that the American mantra remains safe,
globalized, and unchallenged.
Pesky socialist or nationalist leaning governments will be undermined,
pressured into compliance or even invaded if they dare to resist the
American mantra. The full force of U.S. dominated global institutions
— WTO, World Bank, IMF, NAFTA — will focus on maximizing free market
circumstances and corporate access to every region of the world.
Economic safety nets, environmental regulations, labor unions, human
rights, become second place to the free flow of capital and investments.
Indigenous resisters face overt repression, disappearance, or
imprisonment by governments fully armed and supported by the American
dominated New World Order.
So what is the underlying rationale for this American mantra? Are its
dogmatic beliefs based on specific socio-economic facts? Are free market
forces clearly the best mechanism for human betterment? Do these
mechanisms work cross-culturally and are they efficient under all
A closer examination of the American mantra reveals that "free market"
essentially means constant international U.S. government intervention on
behalf of American corporations. A public-private partnership that
utilizes U.S. embassies, the CIA, FBI, NSA, U.S. Military, Department of
Commerce, USAID, and every other U.S government institution to protect,
sustain, and directly support our vital interest—U.S. business.
This public-private partnership means that the government of Guatemala
is pressured to withdraw laws that forbid Gerber foods from marketing
their chubby baby image on infant formula. Peasants see the baby and
believe that formula will make their infants healthy and chubby as well.
Yet breast feeding is considerable healthier in a country where unsafe
water mixed with formula results in high infant mortality.
The American mantra claims that prices will reach their lowest levels
and consumers will benefit from free market competition. Yet living
essentials, food, water, housing, health care, all have the
international tendency to increase more rapidly than products that are
non-essential. Even in the U.S we can get a great deal on a computer,
but try buying emergency health care on a middle income paycheck.
Americans are often amazed to find out that prescription drugs are
significantly cheaper in other countries, a fact that discredits the
benefits of an unregulated market.
American mantra institutions push market deregulation that transforms
foreign economies for the benefit of U.S. businesses. Post-NAFTA
Mexicans are now importing U.S. grown corn for their tortillas, as
millions of formally subsidized peasant farmers leave the land to seek
minimum wage work in the cities of United States. Los Angeles has become
the center for new American sweatshops, as "illegals" compete for
poverty jobs, citizens cannot afford to accept.
Government-assisted foreign market penetration by U.S firms often
results in the buying out of successful indigenous companies and the
competitive overwhelm of others. This situation leaves U.S.
multinationals in dominate positions in foreign domestic markets and
creates win-fall profit taking opportunities.
The free market mantra carries with it shock treatment policies of
lowering public expectations, forced austerity measures, and dismantled
human services. A privately run water system is deemed superior to a
public system because the profit motive will create maximum efficiency.
Yet there is absolutely no research that systematically compares public
verses private efficiency levels, only the dogmatic assertion that this
The American mantra affects the U.S. population as well. We are still
riding on the betterments from the first three/quarters of the 20th
century, and have not faced the full impacts of the economic bifurcation
that has occurred the past 25 years. Poverty levels are rising, the
working poor expanding and homelessness one pay check away for many. In
the last quarter century the bottom 60 million Americans have
economically declined, and most of the next 100 million have barely held
their own, while the dot.com generation elites have socked away
It is time to re-examine the American mantra and speak for global
humanity. We must establish business socio-economic accountability
standards and reacquaint our government with its responsibility for
maintaining the common good.
Peter Phillips (peter.phillips@SONOMA.EDU) is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State
University and director of Project Censored a media research group.