The Word David Brooks Dare Not Speak

John Warner, Inside Higher Ed, May 06, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This article is useful for exposing, as the author says, the Rosetta Stone of David Brooks's account of character. "We first have an admission that indeed, capitalism is not without flaw, though in classic Brooks dialectic, the problem is not structural, but individual, moral." Why? Because capitalism, if based strictly on greed, doesn't work. "If everybody is just chasing material self-interest, the invisible hand won’t lead to well-functioning markets. It will just lead to arrangements in which market insiders take advantage of everybody else." But regulations and structural reforms won't address this, he argues. Only individual character - and specifically, the pursuit of something other than material self-interest - will work. Personally, I find the flaws in this reasoning self-evident.

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