Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Claire Berlinski

"The difference between Thatcherism and free market economics is that when we're talking about free market economics we're talking about widgets and textbooks, we're talking about optimal economic outcomes and it's not just that; she is saying that man is an economic being who makes myriad economic choices over the course of his day... and to the degree that you are taking away his ability to choose, you are taking away his moral agency, you are taking away his free will which is how we distinguish a moral being from... this coffee cup. And it is really important to understand that this did come, it did come from a religious way of looking at mankind, as someone who is fallen but who makes choices between good and evil. Her view was a moral one, not just a technocratic one."
The moral nature of free economic exchanges is a point whose significance must never be passed over. Yet my question for Berlinski is why does she believe the religious background to Thatcher's embrace of the free market is important. I certainly don't think the connection is a necessary one, but I also think that many aspects of religion are a tactical liability in persuading others of the value of free markets over and against government.

Post script: Martin McPhillips would presumably agree with Claire Berlinski on the necessarily religious dimension to ethics. I don't get it.

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