‘Toon mar­ket

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“Of all ‘South Park’ episodes, ‘Gnomes’ of­fers the most fully de­vel­oped de­fense of cap­i­tal­ism, and I will at­tempt a com­pre­hen­sive in­ter­pre­ta­tion of it in or­der to demon­strate how gen­uinely in­tel­li­gent and thought­ful the show can be. [. . .] ‘ Gnomes’ deals with a com­mon charge against the free mar­ket — that it al­lows large cor­po­ra­tions to drive small busi­nesses into the ground, much to the detri­ment of con­sumers. In ‘Gnomes’ a na­tional cof­fee chain called Har­bucks — an ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence to Star­bucks — comes to ‘South Park’ and tries to buy out the lo­cal Tweek Bros. cof­fee shop. Mr. Tweek casts him­self as the hero of the story, a small busi­ness David bat­tling a cor­po­rate Go­liath. The episode sat­i­rizes the cheap anti-cap­i­tal­ist rhetoric in which such con­flicts are usu­ally for­mu­lated in con­tem­po­rary Amer­ica. [. . .]

“ ‘ Gnomes’ [. . .] un­der­mines any no­tion that Mr. Tweek is morally su­pe­rior to the cor­po­ra­tion he’s fight­ing, and in fact the episode sug­gests that he may be a good deal worse. [. . .] ‘ Gnomes’ thus por­trays the cam­paign against large cor­po­ra­tions as just one more sorry episode in the long his­tory of busi­ness­men seek­ing eco­nomic pro­tec­tion­ism — the kind of busi­ness/gov­ern­ment al­liance Adam Smith wrote against in ‘The Wealth of Na­tions.’ Far from the stan­dard Marx­ist por­trayal of mo­nop­oly power as the in­evitable re­sult of free com­pe­ti­tion, ‘South Park’ shows that it re­sults only when one busi­ness gets the gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene on its be­half and re­strict free en­try into the mar­ket­place.”

Paul Can­tor, writ­ing on “The In­vis­i­ble Gnomes and the In­vis­i­ble Hand,” Dec. 4 at www.lewrock­well.com

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