Quinn Slobodian and the birth of neoliberalism

18 Jan, 2020 at 13:55 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | 1 Comment

 

It is a measure of the success of this fascinating, innovative history that it forces the question: after Slobodian’s reinterpretation, where does the critique of neoliberalism stand?

First and foremost, Slobodian has underlined the profound conservatism of the first generation of neoliberals and their fundamental hostility to democracy. What he has exposed, furthermore, is their deep commitment to empire as a restraint on the nation state. Notably, in the case of Wilhelm Röpke, this was reinforced by deep-seated anti-black racism. Throughout the 1960s Röpke was active on behalf of South Africa and Rhodesia in defense of what he saw as the last bastions of white civilization in the developing world. As late as the 1980s, members of the Mont Pèlerin Society argued that the white minority in South Africa could best be defended by weighting the voting system by the proportion of taxes paid. If this was liberalism it was not so much neo- as paleo-.

Adam Tooze

1 Comment

  1. Prof. Philip Mirowski keynote for ‘Life and Debt’ conference
    Life and Debt: Living through the Financialisation of the Biosphere

    “How can it be that the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the deepest financial crisis since 1930s have done so little to undermine the supremacy of orthodox economics?

    The lecture will preview material from Mirowski’s new book: Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Verso, 2013).

    In this lecture, Professor Mirowski responds to the question of how it is that science came to be subordinate to economics and the very future of nature to be contingent upon the market. Charting the contradictions of the contemporary political landscape, he notes that science denialism, markets for pollution permits and proposals for geo-engineering can all be understood as political strategies designed to neutralize the impact of environmentalism, as they all originated in the network of corporate-sponsored think-tanks that have made neoliberal accounts of society, politics and the economy so prevalent that even the most profound crises are unable to shake their grip on the political imagination.”


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