David Brooks' column from the NYT the other day
is mostly right on, except for one weird thing. While diagnosing the demise of what he calls the dignity code (go read the column if you haven't yet - I'll wait), he identifies several factors which are surely part of the problem, and one which probably isn't: capitalism! How does this contribute to the demise of dignity?"We are all encouraged to become managers of our own brand, to do self-promoting end zone dances to broadcast our own talents." Didn't realize that end-zone dancing was the essence of capitalism; must have missed where Mises discusses that. Snark aside, Brooks is here confusing the free market/classical liberal social order with consumerism/hucksterism. But there is nothing about free markets that requires that people be crass and undignified, and a lot of what he likely has in mind is of relatively recent vintage. What bothers me even more than this error is the sneaking suspicion that Brooks knows this, and has conflated the two in an attempt to appease his lefty readers: in other words, yet more gratuitous bashing of capitalism.
David T. Beito -
When I read this story, I kept thinking of the line by Gene Kelly from the first scene in "Singing in the Rain:" "Dignity, always dignity."