There is of course a much-observed tension between the cultural-evolutionary and the free-market versions of conservatism, particularly since the untrammelled free market is the most effective device for destroying traditional institutions that has ever been devised by man. Most of what cultural conservatives and religious fundamentalists hate about the modern world – the rootlessness, hedonism, crass commercialism, loose sexual morality, anti-authoritarianism, and general lack of discipline – is either a direct product of the market, or is a tendency that is dramatically amplified by it. What brings the cultural and the market conservative together is the conviction that these unplanned processes are better than the alternative, which is “social engineering” in the rationalist style.
Read the whole thing. I arrived at it starting from Alex Tabarrok’s link.
Thinking about the quoted paragraph in terms of the three-axes model, I would say that there is a tension about markets in the civilization vs. barbarism axis. A conservative would view productive work as civilized, and markets encourage productive work. However, a conservative would worry that consumer tastes are barbaric, and markets work to satisfy consumer tastes.
Another way in which the market process is civilized from a conservative perspective is that businesses fail. Failure builds character because it reinforces humility. It keeps us from developing too high an opinion of ourselves as individuals or of humanity as a whole. (David Brooks’ latest book, The Road to Character, which I have started reading, seems to stress humility.) In contrast, progressives seem to see government as a tool to eliminate all forms of failure.