Wednesday, June 24, 2009
By Lester Feder
Center for American Progress
The recession is taking its toll on the conservative movement, and religious right leaders’ intellectual rigidity is helping to put a nail in the coffin of a once-influential constellation of ideas regarding the free market.
This was made clear by a recent lecture at the conservative movement’s philosophical mothership, the Heritage Foundation. Jay W. Richards, author of a new book, Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem, said nothing new when he addressed the question, “Is the free market moral?”
Richards defended unregulated capitalism in the language of evangelical Christianity, reflecting the melding of social and economic conservatism Heritage has pedaled for two generations. What was remarkable about the event was that conservatives felt the need to apologize for such long-established doctrine. To watch Richards’ lecture or read his book is to enter a time warp straight back to the late 1970s, when conservatives were rebelling against “big-government liberalism” which they equated with “godless communism.”
But much has changed since then. Many conservatives concede that the eight-year reign of George W. Bush was one of the most disastrous in the nation’s history. Most Americans have come to believe orthodox free-marketism was a false gospel. And even growing numbers of conservative evangelicals are deeply troubled by the vast inequality and environmental degradation created by giving big business free reign....(Remainder.)