A competetive market economy is a reflection – and a source – of freedom. It is also a necessary condition for democracy. In a society where political power determines the allocation of wealth, it is impossible to be independent without being powerful. But in a market society that combination is possible and this, in turn, provides a basis for competing political parties. As Vaclav Havel explained, ‚a government that commands the economy will inevitably command the polity; given a commanding position it will distort or destroy the former and corrupt or oppress the latter‘.
Liberal democracies with market economies are, as Joseph Schumpeter argued in his classic book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, the only societies that create their own opposition. ‚Capitalism created both a parvenu class of rich plutocrats and corporate climbers and a counter-culture of critical intellectuals and disaffected youth‘. It continues to do so today. Take a look at the campuses, the publications and the protestors in western democracies. Only in a market economy could books condemning society’s rich and powerful be published and promoted with such success. Only in a market economy would the wealthy give large sums of money to universities that provide comfortable homes to those who despise the wealthy and the system that made them so. The market economy does not merely support its critics, it embraces them.
Yet lauded and successful critics indulge in paranoid fantasies about
corporate space as a fascist state where we all salute the logo and have little opportunity for criticism because our newspapers, television stations, Internet servers, streets and retail spaces are controlled by multinational corporate interests. And considering the speed with which these trends are developing, we clearly have good reason for alarm. But a word of caution: we may be a ble to see a not-so-brave new world on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean we are already living in Huxley’s nightmare.
So even Naomi Klein has to admit the limits of corporate power. In fact, anti-corporate books and television programmes are being published and produced with great commercial success. Klein’s No Logo has become a brand all of its own. Capitalism nurtures its enemies. It also tries to make money out of them. But then they make money too.
– Martin Wolf, Why Globalization Works