Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Religious nuts come in new flavors

But the religion of the "wise market" may be the most dangerous of all.
A Death-Breeding Logic
The Market: the New Faith
Practically all political leaders - whether from the traditional Left or the Right, from the North or the South - have a quasi-religious faith in the market, especially the financial markets. Or rather, they themselves are the high priests of this religion. Every day in every country, anyone with a television or an Internet connection can attend mass and worship the market-god - in the form of stock exchange and financial market reports. The market-god sends his messages through television anchormen and the financial editors of daily newspapers. Today, this happens not only in OECD countries, but in most parts of the planet. Whether you are in Shangai or Dakar, Rio de Janeiro or Timbuktu, you can receive 'market signals'. Everywhere, governments have privatised and created the illusion that the population will be able to participate directly in market rituals (by buying shares) and reap the benefits in accordance with how well one interprets signals sent by the market-god. In actual fact, the small part of the working population that has acquired shares has no say over market tendencies.
In a few centuries, the history books might say that from the 1980s onwards a fetishist cult prospered. The dramatic rise of this cult will perhaps be associated with two heads of state, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. It will be noted that, from the start, this cult had the backing of governments and powerful private financial interests. Indeed, for this cult to gain ground within the population, public and private media found it necessary to pay homage to it day in and day out.
The gods of this religion are the financial markets. Its temples are known as Stock Exchanges. Only the high priests and their acolytes can tread their holy ground. The faithful are called upon to commune with their market-god on television, on their computer screen, in the daily papers, on the radio or at the bank. Thanks to television, radio and the Internet even in the most remote parts of the planet, hundreds of millions of people who are deprived of the right to meet their basic needs, are also urged to celebrate the market-god. In the North, in newspapers read by a majority of workers, housewives and unemployed, an 'investment' section is published every day, even though the overwhelming majority of readers do not own a single share. Journalists are paid to help the faithful understand signals sent by the gods. more

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