Look out for tyranny in the marketplace

Published July 28, 2023

WORLD Opinions

Over the past couple years, a curious realignment has begun to take shape within American public life. For many decades, we had come to accept as almost a truism that to be conservative in America was to be “pro-business,” and that big business tended to support the Republican Party and at least give a modicum of respect to conservative morality. Today, though, conservatives have increasingly found themselves on the opposite side of cultural and political issues from corporate America.

Whether it’s Big Tech censorship, the proliferation of mandatory “DEI” training in workplaces from coast to coast, or vaccination requirements imposed by many big businesses during the pandemic, the right has ranged itself in protest against corporations it once enthusiastically supported.

Perhaps most perplexingly, in many of these cases conservatives have been most outraged at big business for its violations of individual freedom. It’s not just that we don’t like the values corporate America now seems to be selling; it’s that we think it’s un-American for them to rub our faces in it. Thus far, however, most conservatives have struggled to make sense of these phenomena—after all, haven’t we told ourselves for decades that it is the government that is the sphere of coercion, whereas the market is a space of freedom and competition?

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Brad Littlejohn (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the founder and president of the Davenant Institute. He also works as a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and has taught for several institutions, including Moody Bible Institute–Spokane, Bethlehem College and Seminary, and Patrick Henry College. He is recognized as a leading scholar of the English theologian Richard Hooker and has published and lectured extensively in the fields of Reformation history, Christian ethics, and political theology. He lives in Landrum, S.C., with his wife, Rachel, and four children.

Picture from Unsplash

Brad Littlejohn, Ph.D., is a Fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping public leaders understand the intellectual and historical foundations of our current breakdown of public trust, social cohesion, and sound governance. His research investigates shifting understandings of the nature of freedom and authority, and how a more full-orbed conception of freedom, rooted in the Christian tradition, can inform policy that respects both the dignity of the individual and the urgency of the common good. He also serves as President of the Davenant Institute.

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