The Spirit of Market Anarchy

  •           In The Spirit of Market Anarchy, Morgan A. Brown lays out an argument against the particular strains of statist thinking that have undergirded American atheism since the late Eighteenth Century. His contention is that atheism must come to grips with sound economic theory and pivot towards a market-based approach to religion that actually accords with the historical and economic development of religious freedom in America if atheism--and especially New Atheism--is to succeed in the long run. Secularism, he argues, is a byproduct of the Market, which lies "in the Separation" between Church and State.

              This book gives a comprehensive overview of New Atheism, which is the particular brand of ethical atheism prescribed by Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins. These writers and activists, each in his own way, sought to push the case for atheism as a marketable replacement for religion when combined with secular ethics. However, the common undercurrent of economic and historical thought in New Atheism has always flowed through Marxism, Welfare Statism, and economic democracy--the various creeds of "anti-economic illogic, codified into an ethical system."

              Brown's thesis is that the First Amendment's protections of religious liberty were a compromise between religious statists of Massachusetts and Connecticut with the disestablishmentarians of southern slaveholding states as part of the larger federalism brokered in the Articles of Confederation and, shortly after, the Constitution. How religious freedom developed over time, as various states disestablished their Congregationalist churches through 1834, was not the result of a governmental principle that structured "liberty of conscience" as a Constitutional precept or as a laic principle of statecraft. Instead, religious freedom arrived upon the scene through market competition and laissez-faire. Brown defines religious liberty as a tax rebellion--the abolition of taxation upon the market of religion and the enshrinement of a natural market price for religious services. What threatens religious liberty today throughout the world, and especially in America, is progressive taxation, socialism, tax farming, and the ever-increasing influence of the State upon voluntary market society.

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