Eskimos and the out-group
This paper engages in circular reasoning, as what it purports to describe rests on an assumption that “liberal values” are normative; and so it elides the descriptive and the normative—from the title you might think it just establishes that markets influence morality in some way, yet it also assumes a moral stance as it does so.
It says those exposed to markets favour “anonymous others”—in other words, they favour out-group; they act in a positive way towards strangers and less so towards family, friends, and faith. Yet it’s circular reasoning: it assumes that to treat “anonymous others” in a positive way is moral. Does this not confound common sense? Do you not warn children not to accept sweets from strange men in large overcoats? Stranger danger. The paper rests on a false equivalence—what it describes is a link between immoral behaviour and the market.
The out-group is dangerous, to suspect the out-group is prudent moral behaviour as established by traditional wisdom. It’s opposed to urbanisation; it’s the city where you have to interact with “anonymous others” in a positive way. In the tight-knit rural community you “look to your own”. The market and the city go together.
This also exemplifies how liberalism is connected to decadence and communism. The assertion that liberals and communists are hand in glove is correct. Liberalism says that the out-group, the anonymous stranger, represents high status—it is moral to favour them, immoral to favour your own. This is connected to decadence—to the liberal elites who signal preferential views towards immigrants and counter-signal their own people (justified, if asked for justification, by the assertion it’s “economically rational behaviour”—hence the notorious “It’s good for the economy.”).
To think in such a way will eventually destroy the taboos and customs that made the nation strong in first place—the exotic outsider is moral, the mundane local immoral. It’s ultimately communistic because it’s predicated on the idea that all people are equal—an “anonymous other” can be treated as kin, so they must be equal in some fundamental way; therefore, if there is differentiation in society it must be due to “immoral” injustice.
We find this in the arch-liberal Adam Smith—he attacked aristocrats and priests, only venerated merchants. The merchant is rational—blood and God are not. The result is a society based on greed—acquisitive self-interest—that simultaneously asserts all men are equal; socialism then arises to correct this obvious hypocrisy (since there is inequality, liberals clearly do not really treat out-group as kin—as they say they do).
The same pertains in the international arena. Liberals are utopians who believe that if everyone adopted the free market there would be no more wars—since war would be irrational and all would be resolved through non-coerced trade. Liberals claim wars were caused by aristocrats and priests, not merchants—by irrational behaviour. This neglects the fact that the free market is itself, like democracy, a “non-violent” war and that, secondarily, free markets do not stop wars—in fact negotiation, based on lies, leads to a lack of integrity and a decrease in trust and eventual war; and, thirdly, commercial interests and warfare have never been discrete—the East India Company forced India to open her markets, Commodore Perry did the same to the Japanese.
Since free markets do not stop wars, socialist internationalism emerges to address the liberal hypocrisy—the contention being that wars are, in fact, caused by priests, aristocrats, and merchants (the latter now also conceptualised as irrational, due to market fluctuations, and insufficiently keen on the out-group—and also tainted with coercive measures, per the East India Company).
The paper also assumes that contact with markets changes people, so it has a further liberal assumption that people are malleable through culture. Yet it could also be that the people who drop in-group preference for out-group are “bad in the bone”—natural traitors. We don’t know the cause, the paper doesn’t tell us or claim to—but it insinuates that “culture changes people” (just put people in a free-market environment and they’ll adopt it—except, ethnic cartels such as the mafia disprove this idea).
To treat out-group favourably does not lead to peace because the more interaction with outsiders you have the more opportunities for disputes arise (a “universalistic” multi-racial society is a society at war with itself). Trade with outsiders is important but it is not the sole criterion for “moral” behaviour—and this paper demonstrates that the academy works within the liberal framework de facto and that is what it means to be “moral” for them (to defect on—i.e. betray—friends, family, and faith).