What kind of populist are you?

In sum, no matter what our ideology or creed, people like us are dominated by a fear that to be human is to need something we’re in real danger of losing. To be human is not to be able to “do it” ourselves, whether personally or in relationship.

Some libertarians intuit why people really could be trusted, in a free market, to make choices that work well for themselves and others. But the logic isn’t very often a featured part of the conversation around pro-market populism. That’s because the conversation really ought to involve a consideration of how being pro-human can make us pro-market.

A favorable vision of what it means to be human can yield a favorable view of how humans will function together in market environments. The issue is that not every favorable vision of being human works with markets for political purposes. Some favorable views discount politics altogether, but don’t do anything much to assuage people’s fears that they need the government to organize and operate all our lives. Other favorable views are too naive about how much healthiness and safety the (reified) market will provide. What is needed is a favorable view of being human that captures people’s imaginations about how powerfully — on their own and with other humans — they can bring into being — for themselves and others! — clarity, sanity, productivity, creativity, love, and results. In this vision, “the market” isn’t the locus of trust. We are.