The markets are rational. From that inviolate truth, a pillar of economic thought since 1776, flows all else modern economics understands about the markets, men, and money. An inalterable belief that markets can be measured, quantified, cut, and pasted in mute acceptance that under it all, lies the consistent and undeniable force of rational behavior, a religion which has gone unquestioned.
The theory of rational markets — that buyers and sellers will always act in their best interests — was given life by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations. Born into a moment between ages, the new study of economics grew and developed with its gospel already written and sanctified. Economics became nothing more than competing studies that tried to squeeze the maximum utility out of the blandness of rational, human behaviour. The competition reached a turning point at the end of two brutal wars and an economic depression that sent buildings full of newly minted economists running for their slide rules.
The rational behavior of economics had succeeded in removing over 160 million rational men, women, and children of free will from the market, and with the dull precision of 100 million mallets, rationally pummelled the earth to pieces in its own best interest. Regardless, it still came to pass that "rational", as they say, was written by the victors, and so from the smoke and ruin of trial by fire came the forged steel sword of the American Way, embracing its own best interests by clinging to the myth as flag, an inviolate symbol of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Patriotism — an exceptionally irrational behaviour — became welded to the economic cause. Free markets are rational. One choice, two options — we are right, or they are wrong. Walking off the battlefields of Europe and into the womb of America at Bretton Woods, no one questioned the unconscious absolute that free markets are rational, blinded as they were by the sheer joy of having lived to tell. And again, the participants of Bretton Woods who built the world we thrash around in today, were doing so in a single moment of time, between two very different ages.
In the time since 1944, we have clung defiantly to our patriotism, our democracies, our guns, and our religion. Empires have fallen, backward societies saved, and the planet has become a patchwork of nominally free collections of consumers and producers, all herded into crayon borders that even at the time defied common sense. The nation state was king, dividing the earth into sections of untenable, fortified camps.