Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Robert T. Miller’s observations in Friday’s Daily Article about the need for intervention in times of market panic remind us of an important truth. The fact that markets are usually the most effective and efficient mechanisms for creating incentives for wealth creation, as well as for matching resources to needs, does not mean that they are always effective.

By my reckoning, the great, unifying feature of modern ideology has been the belief that some mechanism or method or formula will miraculously deliver ideal results without fail. This has been the dream of modernity: to replace judgment with calculation, wisdom with technical knowledge.

Because America is nothing if not modern in sentiment, American conservatism is always tempted by libertarian and free market ideologies. But true conservatism is not ideological at all. It wishes to preserve the religious and moral and cultural resources that train us to make wise judgments—especially the wise judgments necessary to know when to intervene into dysfunctional free markets, not in order to overturn or replace them, but so as to ensure their continuing contribution to the common good.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles