The Public Interest

Is the market society a good society?

Daniel J. Mahoney

Summer 2003

IT is tempting to identify the European intellectual tradition  with uniform hostility toward capitalism. Certainly, many of its leading thinkers have tended to resent a social order in which money plays the dominant role in determining the character of social relations. They have heaped scorn on the philistinism of bourgeois society and denounced the injustice of an order where intellectuals are subordinate to the bourgeoisie in power and prestige. But as Jerry Z. Muller makes clear in his new book, The Mind and the Market, † capitalism has had its share of forceful advocates among the best European thinkers of the past three centuries. And its most serious critics have been aware of its virtues as well as of the paucity of humane alternatives to it. It is a mistake, then, simply to identify modern intellectuals with “bourgeois bashing.”

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