Selling the Free Market

The Rhetoric of Economic Correctness

James Arnt Aune

February 1, 2002
ISBN 9781572307575
Price: $35.00
217 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
Copyright Date: 2001

While accusations of “political correctness” are frequently raised against liberals, there has been surprisingly little discussion of how conservatives foment the use of their own “economically correct” language. In this engaging book, James Arnt Aune examines how the rhetoric of the free market has become the everyday language of political debate in America and around the world. He illuminates the inner logic of free-market ideas, using rhetorical theory as an analytical tool. In the process, Aune confronts head on what he sees as the most serious flaw of economic correctness—its destructive impact on the lives of millions of working people and families.

Winner—National Communication Association's Diamond Anniversary Book Award

“Aune's book is a timely and incisive analysis of a politically seductive rhetoric—the appeal to market forces to organize ever-increasing aspects of our private and public lives. By using the tools of rhetorical analysis in a series of readings, ranging from Ayn Rand's novels and cyberpunk fiction to the political speeches of Ronald Reagan and Patrick Buchanan, Aune discloses the devices in free-market rhetoric that eclipse reasoned debate and limit our vision of community, work, and personal relations. This text will be useful for upper-level courses in political communication as well as those courses that are beginning to study economic globalization and its impact on society.”

—Robert Cox, Department of Communication Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“...Aune targets the free-market commanders with elegant precision.”

The Washington Monthly

“The book is unique; a reasoned criticism from the left of the rhetoric of the free market...It is a beautifully written attack on free-market ideology using the resources of classical and modern rhetoric...It's a masterful work.”

—Deirdre McCloskey, author of The Rhetoric of Economics, University of Iowa

“This book offers a penetrating and provocative look at today's market, how it is understood, and how it is being promoted in most every sector of society. In particular, Aune's analysis helps us to get beyond the taken-for-grantedness of the market, looking behind the slogans to reveal how what is often assumed to be 'natural' or 'inevitable' actually involves a hard sell. Aune moves deftly from principles of rhetoric to key ideas in economics to show how the market has become the most common way of expressing who we are and what we do in the contemporary United States.”

—George Cheney, Department of Communication Studies, University of Montana-Missoula; author of Values at Work

“This book offers a carefully articulated treatment of what is perhaps the most important discourse of our time: the academic rhetoric underlying Reaganist, Thatcherist, and neoliberal economic theories. Aune's incisive analysis will be invaluable reading for anyone who is interested in the relationships between organizational action and sociopolitical structures—or who is concerned about the widespread and uncritical acceptance of what George Soros has called free-market fundamentalism.”

—Charles Conrad, Texas A&M University

Table of Contents

Introduction: How the Right Triumphed

I. Rhetoric, Economics, and Problems of Method

1. The Rhetoric-Economics Connection: Rhetorical Strategies of Economic Analysis

2. Economic Rhetoric and the Realist Style (or, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch)

II. What Libertarians Want

3. Checking Ayn Rand's Premises (or, The Revenge of the Nerds)

4. Anarchy, State, and Utopia: A Rhetorical Reading

5. What Libertarians Want, According to Murray Rothbard and Charles Murray

III. The Struggle over Reagan's Free Market Legacy

6. From Reagan to Buchanan: National Glory and Globalization

7. Newt Gingrich, Cyberpunk, and Globalization

*Conclusion: The Market and Human Happiness

*An Appendix for Academics: Deirdre McCloskey's Rhetoric of Economics

About the Author

James Arnt Aune, formerly on the faculty of The Pennsylvania State University, is Associate Professor of Speech Communication at Texas A&M University.


Interested general readers; scholars and students in rhetoric, economics, and political science.

May serve as a text in advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.

Course Use

May serve as a text in advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.