Quinn Slobodian – Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism

Quinn Slobodian – Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism


So hello, everyone. Welcome to another of the
Roads Center for International Economics and Finance speaker
series of this semester. It’s my great pleasure to
welcome Quinn Slobodian, who’s an Associate Professor
of History at Wellesley just up the road, who has
written this wonderful book, Globalist– The End of Empire and the
Birth of Neoliberalism. A couple of notes for me
by way of introduction if you haven’t had a chance
to read the book yet, some odd notes. Number one, there’s
only two academic books I’ve ever listened
to on audio book. This is the second one. And the first one was, believe
it or not, Thomas Piketty. Now Thomas Piketty
takes 26 hours. And it’s actually
kind of necessary to do Thomas Piketty’s novel
book because it’s so dense. And what happens with
Piketty is everybody starts at chapter five
because that’s when it starts on an equality start. And you actually don’t
read chapter two, which is the core of the entire book. So it was worth it to
actually rediscover that. With this one, you have a really
good person actually doing the reading, number one. And it’s actually almost
better as an audio book because it comes alive as
intellectual biography, that this is about
real people who had real lives, and real
desires, and real battles, and real afflictions of the mind
and of the body, and a project. And it really comes alive. So I recommend it
as like really, it’s a great book to read. It’s actually even a slightly
better book to listen to. Second thing is in
terms of setting up. The word neoliberalism
has become, according to a speaker who
will be here soon, and many others, Dani Rodrik,
a kind of empty signifier. It says everything, and it
says nothing at the same time. And we could probably debate
that endlessly as well as the meaning of what
it is, et cetera. I think one of the real
contributions of this book is to actually just expand
what that means but give it content at the same time. There’s a kind of
1945 zero hour thing that happens in a
lot of the Academy whereby whatever there was then
blown up, destroyed, and lost, was then reconfigured. And there are lineages. And those lineages where if
you’re on the Keynesian side, it comes basically down,
trickling down this hill. And if you were on the sort
of the liberal side, then it comes down this hill. And it usually– the hill
is called [INAUDIBLE].. And it just flows from there. And what the book shows is what
an incredibly partial vision that is. That in fact, if you want
to understand liberalism as a whole and in
all of its voices, you really have to
grapple with the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,
which you wonderfully called post-Habsburg stress disorder,
right, and the imaginary of that and what
was lost, and then of course the trauma of
the inter-war period. And what becomes
fascinating is the people that we know as Mont Pelerin
and the Lippmann Colloquium that led to that, in fact, had these
wonderful, varied careers long before they ever became the
people that we think we know and also had protege that
then went off and did things, whose names we know but we
would never associate with them. And he ties it all together
in this wonderful book. So it’s a great pleasure
to have you here. And it was an even greater
pleasure to read the book. Thanks very much. [APPLAUSE] Yeah, I haven’t listened
to the book myself. The only thing I know
about it is the guy who read it also read The
Bonfire of the Vanities, which was to me perfect. OK, so I’m just going to go
ahead and give about a 15 minute, 20 minute talk,
and then Mark and I are going to have
a conversation. And then you get [INAUDIBLE]. And yeah, and then we’ll
all bring it all together. If I had to give this
book an origin point, it would be almost 20 years
ago in the 1999 protests against the World Trade
Organization in Seattle. For people who don’t
know much about it, a famous
coalition of, quote, “teamsters and turtles”
meeting environmentalists along with labor unions, students,
anarchists, old hippies, and assorted others, shut
down the ministerial meeting of the WTO. And in some of the
ways I describe in the end of the book, shook
that organization to its core. I was a junior in college
in Portland at the time– a few hours south of Seattle– and I didn’t go. I remember watching the
protests on our small box TV with a coat hanger
stuck in the back with a sinking feeling of oh
no, a world historical event is taking place. And I missed it to watch some
Lars von Trier movies on VHS. My classmates felt activated,
but I myself felt immobilized. The ’90s were kind of a
weird time to come of age. Middle class North
American white kids like me were both
profiting entirely from everything that
went under the decades buzzword of
globalization but also had the sense that it was
something ominous and something almost verging on evil. The world economy
felt like the nothing from my favorite childhood
film The Never Ending Story– an anonymous faceless
force that seemed to swallow everything
in its path and extinguished particularity. Who would defend such a thing? The term that arose at
that time to describe the philosophy of people
who were defending it was neoliberalism. But what did these
neoliberals want, I asked myself then
and kept asking myself. There’s a few obvious answers. The first is to suggest that
the big nothing was actually the big everything, that it was
lifting the aggregate wealth and productivity of
humanity as a whole. The number of people
living on a $1 a day was dropping from year to year. And even if inequality was also
growing and ecological problems were not going anywhere, then
the rising tide anyway globally speaking was lifting all ships. The second explanation was
that this globalization made a small number of
people very, very wealthy. And it was in the
interests of those people to promote a self-serving
ideology using their substantial
means by funding think tanks,
academic departments, lobbying congress, and fighting
with the Heritage Foundation itself calls the war of ideas. And neoliberalism in
that understanding would be a simple
restoration of class power after the odd anomalous interval
of the mid-century welfare state. There’s truth I think, to
both of these explanations. But in my book, I
took another approach. What I found in the
book is that we actually can’t understand the inner
logic of something like the WTO without considering the whole
history of the 20th century. What I also discovered
is that some of the members of the neoliberal
movement itself self-described from the 1930s onward, including
Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and others actually
didn’t use either of the two explanations I just offered. They actually didn’t say
that economic growth excuses everything. One of the weird things
about Hayek in particular is that he doesn’t actually
believe in measuring aggregates like GDP, i.e, the things that
we need to even say that growth is happening at all. What I found is that
neoliberalism is actually a philosophy less of
economics and more a doctrine of ordering, of creating
the institutions that provide for the reproduction
of the totality. At the core of the
strain I describe in the book is not the idea
that we can quantify, account, price, buy, and sell every
last aspect of human existence. And here it gets quite mystical. What were they after? The Austrian German schools of
neoliberals in fact believed in a kind of invisible world
economy that cannot be captured in numbers and figures
and always eludes human comprehension. After all, if you can see
something, you can plan it. Because of the very
limits to human knowledge, we have to default
to ironclad rules and try not to pursue
something as radical as social justice,
redistribution, or collective transformation. As I write in the
book, one can approach Hayek’s idea of the
system by imagining a visit to the seashore. Wading in the shallow water,
you may see a school of minnows approaching you, traveling
in a rough and shifting orb. The school is not
regimented into even lines, but it does cohere
as a basic shape. As you approach, the orb
dissipates and then reassembles before moving in
another direction. Order for Hayek must be as
unplanned and spontaneous as the movement of a
school of fish in water. So the goal is not one of
raising the standard of living per se, let alone the
abstract indicator of growth, but rather one of
systemic interdependence that would always entail some
level of economic inequality. Hayek, in particular, called
social justice a, quote, “mirage” that we only pursue
because we are literally hardwired from our
days in Savannah and haven’t quite shaken the
idea that we can share things out in the tribe. In a globalized world,
according to Hayek, we have to give ourselves over
to the forces of the market or the whole thing
will stop working and literally most
of us will die. What way of being in the
world does this then imply? In an evocative analogy from his
book on psychology from 1952, Hayek was first
drawn to psychology. Hayek offers up the metaphor of
the leaf, which, quote, “avoids being torn to shreds
by a high wind by taking up a position
of least resistance. What we call
understanding,” he wrote, “is in the last resort
simply man’s capacity to respond to his environment
with a pattern of actions that helps him to persist.” The system survives in order
results, in other words, through the reflexive
efforts of individuals to reproduce both themselves
and thereby reproducing the totality as such. This is quite a
different version of neoliberal thought than
the one we usually have, premised on the abstract idea
of individual liberty or freedom to choose. Here, one is free to choose
but only with a rather limited range of options
left after one has responded to the global
forces of the market. My argument then in the book
is that neoliberal globalism can be thought of
on its own terms as a kind of negative theology. It contends that
the world economy is sublime and ineffable with
only a small number of people having a special insight and
ability to craft institutions that will, as I put it, in
case the sublime world economy. To me, this metaphor
of encasement makes much more sense than the
usual idea of markets being set free, liberated, or unfettered. How can it be, after all, that
in an era of proliferating third party arbitration courts,
international investment law, trade treaties,
and regulations that we talk about unfettered markets? One of the big goals
of my book actually, is to show neoliberalism as one
form of regulation among others rather than the bit other of
regulation as such the way it’s sometimes described. Because despite these
rather abstract metaphors that I’ve just
introduced, the book is actually about a series
of concrete institutions self-consciously designed
to withstand threats to the world economy. The epigraph to the book comes
from German neoliberal Wilhelm Ropke– quote, “a nation may beget
its own barbarian invaders.” The story that we see in the
book from the 1920s to the ’90s is that neoliberal’s saw this
threat of barbarians coming both from within and
without and helped to redesign the state and super
state institutions to defend against them. From within, the threat was
most of all from an organized working class. Neoliberals saw trade
and labor unions as monopolies of a special
kind, monopolizing human labor. If there wasn’t a free and
fluid supply of this input, then the entire
clockwork of the economy would seize up and smash. I describe in my first chapter
how Austrian neoliberal Ludwig von Mises was present
in Vienna in 1927 for a workers uprising in which
after an adverse court ruling, workers marched on Parliament
and set the Palace of Justice on fire. I just want to read a bit
from there to give you a sense of how the book sounds. At 8 AM, the electric workers
stopped the street cars, bringing the
circulation of labor through the city to a halt
and signaling the call to a general strike. Workers marched
to the parliament on the far side
of the Ringstrasse from the Chamber
of Commerce where Mises and Hayek both worked. The Palace of Justice became
the target of their anger at the court’s verdict. And part of the crowd
stormed the building and set it on fire while
others blocked firetrucks, cut hoses, and opened
up other hydrants to reduce water pressure,
defiantly impeding the city’s functions. The authorities felt pushed
to offer a radical solution. And the police chief
received emergency powers, suspended the rule of
law, and gave the order to fire on the demonstrators. Police killed
protesters with rifles in the center of the
city and then drove out to the workers housing estates
in the suburbs and killed more. After three days, 89 people were
dead and over 1,000 injured. The workers’ movement
was permanently crippled. The Social Democratic
Party was unable to use the threat of mass
mobilization effectively again. And perhaps most
damagingly, the day had shown that even the
putatively socialist members of the police would not hesitate
to fire on fellow workers. The July 15th, 1927 uprising
was the deepest crisis in Vienna before the Civil War of 1934. The site of the Palace
of Justice in flames shook the author and cultural
critic Elias Canetti deeply, leading him to devote
his life’s work to understanding the
relationship between crowds and power. For Mises, the event was not
a trauma but a great relief. He was in Vienna at the time. And he wrote to a friend,
quote, “Friday’s putsch has cleansed the atmosphere
like a thunderstorm. The Social Democratic Party
has used all means of power and yet lost the game. The street fight ended in
complete victory of the police. All troops are loyal
to the government.” As his biographer
described, Mises was, quote, “surprised
and delighted by the failure of
the general strike. It appeared that
he accepted lightly the means used in its
suppression, which delivered a deep blow
to many at the time. The right to kill with
impunity under emergency powers met with Mises’s approval.” I describe in the book how
Mises was part of a three person economic commission
that proposed a, quote, “anti-terror law to be used
against striking workers.” The argument there was
that interwar Austria would be beaten by
foreign competitors if they granted higher wages. Is I write, quote,
“the rhetorical weapon of invoking the world
economy was a bludgeon used to beat back social policy gains
of worker insurance, severance pay, and unemployment.” The problem of worker demands
recurs through the book. But the more– the newer
contribution is the one contained in the
subtitle of the book– The End of Empire and the
Birth of Neoliberalism. What I explain it
there is in thinking about the period
of decolonization is how we can think of the WTO
as the latest in a long series of institutional fixes
proposed for the problem of emergent nationalism
and what neoliberal’s saw as the confusion
between sovereignty, or ruling a country
and ownership, or owning the
property within it. I show how the purely
rhetorical demands of the United Nations by African, Asian,
and Latin American countries for things like
permanent sovereignty over national resources. I either write to nationalized
foreign owned enterprises, who are actually
existentially frightening to global businesspeople. They drafted in neoliberal
intellectuals to do things like craft agreements that gave
foreign countries in the ’70s– that gave foreign
corporations more rights than domestic actors– what I call
[? xeno’s ?] rights– and tried to figure out how to
lock in what they themselves called the human right
of capital flight into binding
international codes. The new international economic
order written and passed by a coalition of global
south countries in the 1970s became an especially
grave threat. And I show how we can see the
reform of the gap into the WTO by the ’90s as
largely a response to the fear of a
planned and equal planet that many saw in the NIEO. The culmination of
all these processes I described by the
’90s is a world economy that is less like a
Laissez-faire marketplace and more like a fortress as ever
more of the world’s resources and ideas are regulated
through transnational legal instruments. The book acts as
a kind of a field guide to these institutions
and in the process hopefully recasts the 20th
century that produced them. What I found in other words,
by the end of writing this book is that the world
economy wasn’t a nothing nor was it a sublime force
beyond our comprehension. The title of the book’s
chapters offer a gallery of the different ways
of conceiving the world economy that I follow. I found that it was a world
of walls, a world of numbers, a world of federation’s,
a world of races, a world of constitutions, and
finally, a world of signals. What this result is what
led me to the project in the first place. The vision in 1999 of the world
of people without a people. Perhaps, the lasting
image of globalization that the book leaves is
that world capitalism has produced a doubled world– a world of emporium, or
the world of nation states, and a world of dominium,
or the world of property. The best way to understand
neoliberal globalism as a project is that it sees
its task as the never ending maintenance of this division. The neoliberal
inside of the 1930s was that the market would
not take care of itself, and that what Wilhelm Roepke
called a market police, was an ongoing need
in a world where people whether out
of atavistic drives or admirable
humanitarian motives kept trying to make the earth
a more equal and just place. I wouldn’t say the book has
any solution certainly now less than ever. But it does its
best at description. And I’m looking forward to
having a discussion about that. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] So let’s have a chat. Yeah. All right. So I’ve written one or two
things about this subject when you were a wee boy. And this is funda– as I
say in the back of the book, I’ve learned that this has
fundamentally changed the way that I think about this. So I want to try and walk
people through in a sense what happened to me. And we can talk about
aspects of the book, right? So here’s the first
one I’ll go with. Let’s start with the present. We have a– and we’re going
to get through this at the end as well. We have a president who
says he’s not a globalist. Yes. Yet he’s not exactly a
socialist by any means. Mhm. He actually does want to
affect redistributions. He wants to actively
get into the economy. But he’s hardly
what you would call a sort of prototypical,
postwar Keynesian by any means. Now let’s dig deeper on this. One of the things that
I found most fascinating about your term globalists– and let’s start with
what happened in Vienna– the ability to treat labor
as on the one hand simply a commodity that must be free. And in the other hand,
a kind, how to put it, you have no claim
to sovereignty. You have no claim to
your redistribution. You have no claim to rights. You are an object in a
political sense as well. And you circulate as other
commodities do, right? That is a kind of critique
that a Trump supporter, a more sophisticated one, might
give of the, quote, unquote, “global elite.” There’s a real resonance there. And I’m reminded of when the
Prime Minister [INAUDIBLE] said to the Tory
Party Conference. If you’re a citizen
of Norway, you’re not a subject anywhere
or whatever [INAUDIBLE].. If you’re a citizen
of the world, then you’re a
citizen [INAUDIBLE].. Exactly, right. Exactly. And they were very much
four of [INAUDIBLE] citizens of the world. So we seem to be in a
moment in which that’s come really back into tension. So talk a little bit
about the origins of that. Why fetishized the system? When I think about liberals, I
think about individual liberty. I think about possible
sovereignty, all the rest of it, Lockean tradition. This is miles away from them. So give us a little
bit on sort of how this– how and why this
thing was constructed. Sure. I mean, I think that
maybe I can answer it by returning to that
moment of the ’90s and what we meant by
globalization then, right? I mean, I think it kind
of had– that discourse had two central elements. One was a kind of aspect
of naturalization, right? The sense that
what was happening. That the level of
the global economy was something that had
a kind of a force to it that forced the hand of
national states in a way that it was hopeless to resist. And so all we could do was
to kind of offload autonomy to this references to this
thing called a global economy. And second, it was a
kind of goal and reality of deep politicization, right? So the idea that
decisions about trade, for example, would
be decided in advance through locked in
clauses and something like the WTO treaty
or the NAFTA treaty. The opposition to
that at the time was largely coming
from the left, and it described
itself at the time as a kind of altered
globalization, right? I think that was
clearly a better way to think about it than
anti-globalization. [INAUDIBLE] call wasn’t for a
kind of isolation or a sealing off of politics or economics but
to organize the world economy in different ways and
specifically to confront those two points– to kind of denaturalize it
and to repoliticize the world economy. And I think that
is a helpful way to think about what, in effect,
Trump and his trade team are doing. I mean, they are carrying out
a kind of altered globalization from the right, right? They are there openly
embracing the politicization of sphields that
were usually seen as sacrosanct zones for the
economic decision making, right? And they are de naturalizing
the way the global economy works by saying it is simply a
struggle of political entities, national entities,
and the economy is not a kind of bracketed
space beyond that, right? So I think that just
at a descriptive level, that’s the best way to think
about what they’re doing. And I think that then the
questions that open up are the ones that
are not being asked, I think, in this sort
of false opposition that are kind of open
versus closed, right? I mean, I think
that when you accept that there is a kind of altered
globalization happening here, I think you can still
then ask, but what aspects of the political
program of neoliberalism are still central to
this program of the right even if it is–
or we can conceive a kind of altered
globalist [INAUDIBLE]?? And then you know, it’s
interesting to see actually the sort of the narrowing
of political imagination when you see that
even at the supposedly the furthest ends of
the spectrum here, the status quo versus
that right insurgency, it’s still really
varieties of capitalism that we’re arguing
about here, right? I mean, in the end, it isn’t
a fundamentally different political economic system. It’s really a tactical
question about how do you get better access
to foreign markets. Is it through
multilateralism, or is it through more aggressive
unilateralism or even bilateral means? So that’s the first
part of your question. The second part of
your question, I think, is about what did these
neoliberals admire so much about the
economy, and how is that different than our
typical idea of liberal beliefs and individual [INAUDIBLE]? But also in a global, that
obstruction, the system that you mentioned, right? Yeah. The end is the system. That’s what immediately struck
me is no, the end is liberty. I’ve read [INAUDIBLE]. I understand this. But no, it wasn’t
really, was it? In the case of Hayek, no. And in the case of
Mises, also no, right? I mean, if you read
what they’re saying, they have a very kind of
a functionalist attitude towards the nature of something
like democracy, for example. What is good about democracy
is that it provides a mechanism for peaceful
change for the most part, peaceful regime change. And it allows some space for the
kind of evolutionary discover of new ways of perfecting the
production process basically. When it ceases to
fulfill that function, then it tips over into the need
for some kind of repression or the curtailment
of democracy, right? So democracy certainly
is not a value in itself for someone like Hayek. It’s a value in so far as it
serves a different function. And I think that
you can extend that to his whole attitude towards
the individual and individual liberty. Individual liberty
and individual freedom is a principle that he
embraces and promotes in so far as it offers a means of
achieving this higher end, which is a kind
of systemic stability or a kind of the
coherence of the whole. I think that the metaphor that
he offers about the leaf to me really captures that well. I think it’s important to
interject at this point because it might seem like
I am just this sort of fire breathing, anti-neoliberal,
anti-Austrian polemicists that card carrying Hayekians
at the highest level completely accept
my interpretation. Like the current president
of the Mont Pelerin society, who has written
multiple books about Hayek and sees himself as a Hayekian,
thinks this is a good book and doesn’t complain about
say this in comparison to the metaphor of the
leaf, my portrayal of Mises and how we thought about
economic policy in the 1920s. So in fact, they
like it because I think it gets closer to where
they’re actually coming from. And in this moment, actually,
this political conjuncture, that actually gives them a kind
of nobility or purpose, which is actually greater than simply
fighting for individual liberty or individual rights, right? Right. Because we’re back
in a moment where it seems like what is at stake
is not just can I do this or can I buy that? But we’ll the system– Will the system hold? –as such hold? Right. So I mean, just by
pure repetition– not because I think of any
structural similarities– but by pure repetition,
we found ourselves back in the 1930s dilemma at
least discursively, right? Rhetorically, we’ve talked
ourselves into that fact. Yes, and they get
to own the system? And they get to be the ones who
speak on behalf of the whole and against the particularity
and the fighting politicized self-interest
of this or that nation. And so within this, there’s a
kind of dissolution of politics not just democracy is purely
an electoral means for avoiding revolution in this reading. Yes. So politics just disappears
in the following sense. So any political scientist
first day of class, they sit you down
and say, right, he owes you a [INAUDIBLE]
definition of politics. Who gets what, when,
where, and why? It’s all about distribution. Now it’s not just the
state redistributing. It is a question
of the superstition of power, resources, et cetera. None of this happens. When it happens, it’s always
seen as the error term. But at the same time,
that is impossible. It’s the evacuation of
politics because by definition, the dividing up of the
resources of the world through any mechanism, whether
it’s capitalism, socialism, whatever, is distribution of it. So it’s one thing to say
we’ve got the higher purpose. We’re focused on the system. We are in a long
game here, kids. This is what we’re doing. But at the end of the
day, who gives a shit? Because what you care
about is that stuff that’s on the bottom. Doesn’t that lead to
a kind of political paralysis for that
mode of thought? Well, I mean, I think
that it’s important to see that it is a mode
of argument that’s pitched directly at elites. It’s for elites
by elites, right? I mean, I think Andrew Gamble
had the best way of describing the way that Hayek’s
thought worked, which is he did have this kind
of cafe culture notion of how to engage with an
intellectual opponent and potentially persuade them. So he knew how to
deal with his peers. Anyone below that, he could
only think about means of disenfranchising. Right. Right? I mean, that was
really the [INAUDIBLE].. He put the bulk of his argument
to that sort of imagination and that sort of elite-to-elite
discussion, which is I think broadly true for the
kind of Mont Pelerin society discussions that
happened from the ’40s up into about the ’90s. In the 90s, we do get this
sort of interesting twist though, right? I mean, if neoliberal
thought has been primarily about the elites
against the masses, constraining the
masses at some level, I don’t think many people
would disagree with that. In the ’90s, you get
especially with the kind of radical anarcho
capitalist tradition around Murray Rothbard,
which gets picked up in Germany and Austria, too. There’s a reversal, where
there’s the belief that now you can somehow use the
masses against the elites. Because the elites
have in a sense co-opted and captured the
system so you need their energy. Because the elites– [INAUDIBLE] –become sclerotic. And in fact, they– in fact, the elites might
be more socialist minded than the masses
themselves, right? So by the ’90s,
there’s a feeling that you no longer have
to worry about a kind of organic revolt of the working
class in the traditional way. Most people have been
successfully subsumed into the need to constantly
think about their own credit score and things like that. So the elites are the ones
who have the freedom to. So all the socialists are
in the Ivy League schools. This sort of inertia. So that becomes I
think a very important and kind of portentous
twisted in neoliberal thought. But up until that
point, it is in fact, a kind of a project
of depoliticization of a bracketing of the
political and of a bracketing of the very problem
of legitimacy I think on its own terms. And in that sense, they avoided
distributional questions at their peril. I mean, because I think one
has to be attentive to that without losing the
game [INAUDIBLE].. Yeah, I mean, to me, one of– the ones that always popped up
to me as an example was the one sort of economic institution,
which doesn’t either get criticism, but occasionally
applauded are central bank’s. Monetary stability
set up particularly in the sort of [INAUDIBLE]
liberal tradition. And yet when you
raise interest rates, that’s redistributionary. When you cut them,
that’s redistributionary. By definition, you’re
playing redistribution. But again, there seems
to be a complete myopia not just to that,
but to the notion that politics is
what society does. It’s almost an attempt
to abolish politics by basically encasing us
all within this framework at the top. Tell us more about this
notion of encasement. What is it you’re trying
to get it at with that? Well, I think that I
was just really reacting to this sort of
reflexive way we have of describing the era
of global capitalism since the ’90s as a period
of liberated markets, unfettered markets. Because when you
learn about the field of international economic
law, or sort of watch the way that is changing with
bilateral investment treaties, international investment,
a lot of landscape, it just explodes after 1989. So you actually have
more and more people who are earning a living,
litigating and enforcing and bringing cases related
to this very question of global trade. And so there’s actually
the institutional landscape is actually becoming more
and more crowded with actors and players and people who are
stakeholders in kind of how do you control the
movement of goods from one part of the
world to the other as the volume of
that trade grows. So that just seemed
to me completely at odds with this
notion of just sort of the feckless, frictionless
movement of things in a way that one often sees. If you try to Google image
search globalization, which I do with some
frequency, you almost get the same image, which is
of the earth crisscrossed by– Yeah, it flows. It’s usually blue. Yeah. Seemingly, always this sort
of blue laser like unimpeded, almost instant– right, there is this
kind of discourse of like the instantaneousness
that, of course, is true when one thinks about certain
communications technologies. But even there, the world
in which this takes place is an institutional one. And thinking about the way
that certain forms of trade and interaction get locked
in and defended and litigated through law seems to lead us
more to a notion of encasement of certain forms of trade rather
than liberation and freedom. So thinking a little bit
about that, [INAUDIBLE] I was listening to [INAUDIBLE]
completely lost where I was going with that one. Encasement– where
did I want to go? [INAUDIBLE] about encasement,
redistribution, to– ah, that was it, Habsburg? Uh-huh. Right. So I can put on a hat and
say I’m British if I want to, or Scottish, or whatever. So we lost an empire. We’re still trying
to get over it. Yes. No one really– Unsuccessfully. Unsuccessfully. Nobody appeased Brexit. Nobody really mourns the
loss of Habsburg, I thought. But it turns out
this is actually a real touchstone
and a real mirror for what this project is. Why– what was so
awesome about Habsburg? Well, I mean, for
Mises especially, who had really been socialized
in the Habsburg Empire, I mean, Hayek and his cohort are
all born around 1900. So they are all kind
of like teenagers really when the
empire ends in 1918. But someone like Mises is
trained to be a civil servant inside of the Habsburg Empire. I mean, you went to
university in Vienna to administer the empire. And at some level,
he believed in and bought into
the solution, as he saw it, that had been arrived at
in Habsburg for doing something that’s actually very
hard, which is how do you govern a space that
is filled with people of different languages,
different nationalities, and their understanding,
even different races in the kind of Central
European way of thinking that at the time. He himself is Jewish,
meaning he was put in what Ernst Gellner calls
the Hapsburg dilemma, which is he can’t play the game of
nationalism because he loses. As a Jew, there’s no
sort of way of arguing for a kind of a
place, a territory, special privileges within
the Habsburg territory. So he’s forced to defend
sort of constitutionally. He’s forced to defend the idea
of some kind of a structure that can preserve multi
conventionality and multi nationality. But the problem is he’s also– and so he’s a political
liberal in that sense, and he’s also an
economic liberal. So he needs to figure
out a way that you can have a space of people with
diverse ways of understanding who they are and their
identities, who nonetheless, will be able to
trade with each other and act in concert and
in harmony economically. And he believed in his sort
of retroactive construction of what the Habsburg
Empire was is that they had kind of solved one
of the problems of world order. And they had solved
it through what he called a kind of a
regime of double government. And Hayek says the same
thing that we actually need a political government
and an economic government. And the political
government can do things like give people
language schools. They can have their flags. They can even have their coins. The economic
government, however, will preserve things like
free movement of labor, free movement of goods,
free movement of investment. And if you can convince
people sufficiently that they are self-determining
while also strongly restraining the autonomy that they have to
be self-determining by having free movement of capital
and labor and goods, then you will have
potentially solve the problem of the
world after empire. So the whole project
of trying to dream of a global economic
architecture is really trying
to scale up what he saw as the kind of
successful double government of the Habsburg Empire. Of course, it didn’t bear
that much relationship to the actual place. I mean, the Habsburg was
actually very protectionist. You can’t sort of hive
off economic questions from political and
cultural questions that the way that he sort of
naively thought that you could. It simply doesn’t work that way. But this became the
kind of the ideal model of how things could turn out. And in many ways,
by the mid 1990s, I think when you have a global
economic architecture that is linking us all as one
unity while still allowing for [INAUDIBLE]– Habsburgish. Yeah, the world has been kind of
Habsburgized in a strange way. And people were talking
about it that way. Sort of within the
neoliberal tradition, they were saying what
we see with something like that WTO is that
national sovereignty is good. But it does need to exist within
the supranational constraints of a kind of a higher order. And in the era of empire, that
would be the higher instance of the crown, the
empire itself, and now it’s the higher instance of a
supranational organization that protects the flow of free trade. So whilst sailing that,
[INAUDIBLE] project, the same people on the end
of empire wanted federations. This was the next move. We’re going to have federation. We’re going to build
them out bilaterally. We’re going to kind
of do a little EU project in a sense is
ultimately what it was. But go back to one of the
examples you gave earlier, the clarion call for
Austria to do better was for everybody in the country
to suffer a 50% wage cut. How do you square the two? I mean, in a sense, one is a
very positive version of look what we’ve lost, even
if it’s not true. And we can all get
to a better place. And if we simply
play by these rules and other’s double government,
we’ll all be better off. But honestly, I’m asking
you to take a 50% pick up. And at the end of the day, it’s
simply labor has to adjust. Austrians have to
have lower wages. We need the biggest market
we can, and then in a sense, we’ll all be happier. But that claim isn’t even made. No, no, the happiness– The happiness– – The aggregate had this– –never gets there. –claim isn’t
actually made, right? Right. I mean, Mises is very,
very clear about this. I mentioned that in the
first chapter of the book. When Austria is being threatened
by competition from Chinese producers already before
the First World War, one of the first things
that Mises writes– he’s in a statistics
class with Schumpeter, which apparently was also
visited by Hilferding– Mises says– It’s quite a seminar. It was [INAUDIBLE]
and [? Gruenberg, ?] Mises says everyone
is saying we need to protect our goods
against Chinese competition. But I see it another way. Maybe we’ll have to lower our
wages and our living condition to the level of the, quote,
[INAUDIBLE] or the Hindu to be able to compete on the
level playing field, right? But why would anyone
ever think that would be possible or desirable
if you were already there? Yeah, that’s a good idea. Let’s go for that. Because at some level, to access
the endowments of the world in like a hard Ricardian
way then you do need a kind of an absolute
international division of labor. He pooh poohed Ricardo for not
being Ricardian enough, right? Right. Because Ricardo said, well,
capital likes to stay at home. It’s not actually
going across the globe. And Mises said, oh yes,
it will, and it should. Right, so there’s a kind of a
leveling effect, which is yeah, I mean, much of what you– when you read what
they’re saying, you’re like how
does a politician sell this stuff, right? I mean, that seems to
be totally out of touch with the creation of a
campaign or a platform. And– Even a residualist
notion of democracy. Well, yeah, I mean, this is
why I found especially looking at the post first
World War moment, it’s often described as
Wilson versus Lenin, right? But these are just varieties
of national self-determination. And then next to
that, you actually have Mises who says like– Yeah, [INAUDIBLE]. –self-determination
is totally subordinate to global economic integration. And the autonomy that the
space of maneuver for any given nation is always going to
be in the iron constraints of global competition. And that’s what this
book gave me was– that’s the bit that I
never knew in a sense. Like when you start, then it
changes the whole picture. And so just a couple of
more from me, and we’ll just open up to everybody else. But I just want to get
these on the table. The neoliberals of this period,
they were fantastically busy in terms of employment. They did all sorts
of different stuff at quite a higher level,
which is another part of the story we don’t hear. They were active. The phrase tariff walls
comes from this period. And they had maps
that they took around and they showed people of
the height of the wall. It was like there was a wall. [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, it was a suitcase
sized diorama that– [INAUDIBLE] Diorama, right? And then there
were statisticians. Then there were business cycle
hawkers for financial news. Then they got involved
in all that stuff that we did over here
on business barometers, in which we still do. We just do it with more
sophisticated graphs, right, [INAUDIBLE]. And then basically,
you don’t really go into the calculation debate. But they kind of seem to get
into trouble around 1935-1976. It’s almost as if economics
is going this was as a whole. Leftward, yeah. Leftward. They were not just
leftward, also sort of more
formalist, et cetera. And they just kind of
go, all right, we’re not doing this anymore. And then that’s when the sort
of the moment of discovering [INAUDIBLE]. It’s beyond our
comprehension is all there. You would think that
would be a dead end. But that’s actually where
almost everybody else starts their story. So what is knowing that
back story tell you? What has it gave us in the story
that we didn’t know already? Well, I mean, I think part
of my hope with the book was it would kind of
undermine a sloppy conflation between “economism,” quote,
unquote, and neoliberalism as somehow the same things. And I mean, someone
like James [? Kwok, ?] whose book I feel like
I learned a lot from, he’ll still sort of
say that the importer’s of the idea of economism
are Mises and Hayek– these Austrian immigrants. But that’s an out-and-out
outrageous statement. And in fact, economics
is a discipline. I think what you’re
describing is exactly right, which is the moment at
which Hayek was a mainstream economist was the 1930s,
doing business cycle research, talking about how you can
hopefully avoid crises. And then what he sees is
that actually this argument is being picked up
by Social Democrats and even worse by labor unions. And that actually
if you give people a kind of portrait
of the economy, and you give them a sense
of how they can control it, then you tend to kind of
give a very powerful weapon into the hands of
working class parties and working class politics. And so he kind of cuts
from that pretty quickly, and then he begins to declare
no, any attempt at oversight is futile. But PS, also because
to try to look at only at the
level of the nation is actually the wrong frame. That the economy
is a global thing. So you do your Keynesian
national income accounting. And that’s drawing a kind of
a cordon around the nation and that’s simply
epistemologically wrong as well as being
politically wrong. But you can see the stuff. One of my favorite sources that
I came across in the archives was right after Mises and Hayek
start the Austrian business cycle Research Institute. There is an article about it in
the Viennese workers newspaper. And it’s a short article. But it says, a new Institute
has been created here in Vienna. And we can use this
now much better to organize our
strikes and our labor stoppages and our slow downs. And there’s literally red ink
on the side of it in the margins and underlined four times. And I don’t know if that
was Mises or Hayek himself. But it might as well
have been because it serves to signal well
they’re kind of turn from what I think is really
the birth of mainstream economics in a way and towards
legal mysticism, all forms of sort of
constitutional fetishism that leads them out on into
a very peculiar territory. So I think to kind of throw
out all of mainstream economics under the pretense that
it’s all Hayakian is just a bizarre statement. And in fact, as we know,
economics as a discipline has contributed in a direct way
into social democratic projects and project of redistribution
and building social justice that the neoliberals actually
actively mobilize against. So I think breaking
apart that couplet was for me quite important
not just empirically, but also kind of politically. Because I think it’s very
unwise to sort of say that you can’t have any connection
to economics as a discipline because it’s tainted somehow
by its connection to these evil Austrian’s. Yes, so just one
last one just again, to get it out on the table. The other big
surprise in the book was the one identity that
they do admit is race. And it’s a racial hierarchy. Now this is not true
for all of the people. In fact, it’s really
Ropka and a few others. But it’s a very
pronounced strain. And many of us know the
story of Chile and Chicago boys, et cetera. But the South African connection
is utterly fascinating. Can you give us just
sort of a quick synopsis, or a quick flavor as to
what that was all about and how it nearly split
the neoliberal movement? Sure. So this is also
quite relevant to the present because
basically Mises as a Jew, as someone who
fled from fascists wasn’t on board obviously
with the kind of race science that the Nazis were doing. And not just obviously,
but he openly stated that this
is pseudoscience. It’s ridiculous the idea
that different races have different motivations is absurd. All humans are the same. He was very much universalist
when it came to humans. But then he did have moments
where he said, however, race theory maybe, perhaps, does
hold the key to understanding human variation and how we
have some civilizations that flourished and some that died. Perhaps, one day this
will be something that will be dug into more. Sort of like two lines. That happens. He doesn’t pursue it again. He never talks about
race as a category. Hayek, more or less, explicitly
opposes race as a category. Even in his arguments with
socio biologists in the 1970s, he was saying this is wrong. They put too much
weight on genetics. This is actually culture
that is the space in the medium of evolution. Traditions and morality
is not carried by genes. So that’s the hard sort
of Austrian side of it. The Wilhelm Ropka
however, who is not probably well-known in this
room or in general in the United States, but is kind of revered
in Switzerland and in Germany and in Holland as
one of the fathers of the post-war
social market economy, went hard as an
apologist and advocate for South African apartheid. And his argument there
was that the races have different capacities, that
the black man in South Africa is of a specifically
different type, and to imagine that he can
operate on the same level politically as the white
man is a suicide mission. This is the kind of
language that he’s using. So he basically follows
closely with kind of the “National Review”
William Buckley position on white supremacy as attached
to a kind of free market position in the 1950s and ’60s. There’s another character
involved, William Hutt, who is often held up as the
kind of a hero for libertarians because he opposed apartheid. But he was an
anti-apartheid activist. But what he actually was is
he was against color bars in the marketplace. So that’s what he opposed
racial discrimination in the field of occupations
and consumption as well. But what he believed
at the same time– and this is in his
most famous book, The Economics of the
Color Bar– is that there should be a weighted franchise. So you free up and you get rid
of the color bar in the market. But to avoid exploitation
by a black majority, you give their vote less
weight, and that is a situation that he said will probably
continue for a very long time. At which point, you
will introduce sort of along the model of
digressive proportionality. Blacks votes will continue
to be worth less even as their qualifications grow. So it’s a complicated story. The reason it’s
important to the present is that there is a strain
of racist libertarianism that leads into the alt right. Hans-Hermann Hoppe is the
most famous proponent. And he like Rothbard,
who I mentioned earlier, go back to these one or two tiny
parenthetical lines from Mises, and say look, Mises never
denied the reality of race. He’s been with us
the whole time. He was a race realist
from the get-go, right? So there is a way that
that idea of humanity as being fundamentally
composed of people with group differences
of capacity is not part of the main
line of the neoliberal story as I understand it at all. But recently, in the more
radical stateless anarcho capitalist strands
of neoliberalism that unfortunately have
been very influential in the right populist parties
in places like Austria and Germany, that has
now come back again, and it’s provided an even
stronger kind of legitimation for them to oppose things
like welfare state, open borders in Central Europe. Cool. I think we covered some ground. Let’s do some questions. Do you want to just field
your own from the room? I’m sure you’re
perfectly capable. Sure. Yeah, that’s fine. Let’s go. Thanks Quinn for this super
interesting presentation. I wonder if you can
say a little bit more about what you think
is neo about liberals? Because I’ve gotten a few
things from this presentation. And I know that they’re
sort of competing senses. So what if you could sort
of organize these for us? So one thought is that
neoliberals, unlike well, I guess classical liberals
historically speaking, don’t think of the market
as something natural but as something that
needs to be instituted. Oh, am I supposed [INAUDIBLE]. [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, that’s a good idea. All right. Now, you’ve gathered
your thoughts. You can ask the
question properly. Now that you’ve interrupted
me, I’ve lost all my thoughts. No, so one thought is that
the kind of classical liberals think that the market
is kind of natural, and you just need to deregulate
it and just sort of– it’s an opportunity to give people
freedom and [INAUDIBLE] organize itself. Whereas I think you suggested– and I’ve heard other
people say this– that the neoliberalism
actually sees the market as a kind of piece
of political technology, that it needs to be instituted
and consciously maintained through use of the state. That’s one axes. Another you
suggested, especially with your vivid
recounting of the strike and the fire, the
Palace of Justice, is that neoliberalism is born
of the experience of needing to defeat the left. It’s a way of defending
a market economy, given a fully developed set of
socialist parties and radical trading movements and communist
theory that includes the use of economic theory at
the time [INAUDIBLE]—- It’s going into
[INAUDIBLE] and it’s fine. OK, –to defend I guess a market
economy against socialism, [INAUDIBLE] competing– I don’t know– feudalism. It’s more of the old regime. But then this third,
which I get from the title of your discussion
is that neoliberals are especially concerned
with understanding capitalism as a global social and
political order in a way that I guess classical liberals
aren’t, or is that what’s new? Or is it that it has a different
place in their thinking from classical liberals? So those are sort of three
things that came out. I wonder if you could
say which or how– in what way do all of them make
it neo as opposed to not just liberal? Mhm. Yeah, I mean, at some
level, of course, I would agree with
all three of those. I think that the way that
I approach the problem is to see how solutions to the
problem of saving capitalism against both its internal
capacity to self-destruct, and the kind of the most
disintegrative forces that are trying to destroy it,
what strategies can be formed to kind of save capitalism
against both itself and against its enemies. And what those
enemies are according to neo liberals is
in the 20th century, is the problem of
the universalisation of the principle of
self-determination and the universalisation of the
principle of one man one vote democracy becomes the
kind of threat against, which the institutionally the
market needs to be protected. So I think it is very much to
your second point, one needs to understand neoliberal theory
the same as really, I guess, all political theories
as emerging conjecturally from things that are seen
as existential threats to its existence of
its core principles. And what I tried
to see in the book is like where are
those principals? Where are those threats? And yes, it was the
left at sometimes. At other times, when you
think about something like the new international
economic order and the demands coming from global south
countries led especially by oil producing countries,
who have realized oh, we can kind of shut down the
world economy if we like politicize this one commodity,
the commodity of oil, then is that a left threat? I don’t know. I don’t know if that is such a
helpful way of describing it. It’s a disruptive
politicizing threat. So and the same way– the card carrying
neoliberals that I speak to are very worried
about Trump, right. They see him as opening
the door that I described of kind of politicization
in a way that could lead to a kind
of systemic breakdown. So I think that sort of
performing that sleight of hand whereby depoliticization– the political work that needs
to go into deep politicization can sort of present itself
as nonpolitical is really the central problem and that
the circumstances of not just economic globalization, but the
generalization of the principle of democracy and post-imperial
national self-determination creates just a totally
different landscape for that than it was for the classical
liberals in the 19th century. But to be honest, I’m
thinking more and more that it’s helpful to think
about the similarities between something
like Keynesianism and neoliberalism
in certain ways. So Jeff Mann’s recent
book on Keynes I think offers a vision of
Keynes as someone who wanted the same
thing as the neoliberals. In other words, he wanted the
maintenance of a free market order at a global level. And he saw a certain
kind of institutional fix that could be carried out
to achieve that just as the neoliberals have theirs. It was just about moving the
promises about social welfare provision in different ways. But I think both of
them can be helpful. They subsumed under the
notion of liberalism. And their fighting
over the label is probably not that
helpful anymore. But I appreciate the push on it. So– Who’s next? I’ve got the mic. [INAUDIBLE] So you’ve talked a lot about
how these thinkers are reacting to the radical left and
disillusioned the Habsburg Empire and waved
revolution after 1917. So I just want to
ask about the people on the other side of the coin
and whether or not they matter. The people that I’m
more interested in were the fascists. You talked about– Mark pressed
you a little bit on this race issue. And I wanted to
ask you what is– because I regret I’ve
not read the book yet. What is that relationship
to fascist movements within Central Europe
during this period? Because it seems
like on the one hand, obviously, the race issue
is deeply troubling to them. The sort of opportunistic
interference in the workings
of the free market to serve the purposes of
re-armament, inflation, or what have you
are problematic. But fascism, I personally
truck with a sort of Marxist view of
fascism as a sort of response of capitalists
trying to sort of crush the labor movement
and sort of using these people as an
instrument, and then being devoured by them. The fascists in all
of Germany, Italy, elsewhere are all seen
as violently opposed to organized labor. They do form a very
close relationship with heavy industry
monopoly capitalism. So how do these
globalists– how do they make sense of what’s going on? Does it even really matter
because they see fascism as a dying movement? Because it seems like today
authoritarian nationalism is perhaps more of a threat
than the radical leftism is in terms of the liberal
democratic project? From their point of view, right. Yeah, I mean, on their
own terms, I mean, if you read Hayek and
what he writes about then, he writes as much about
the threat from the right as from the left. I mean, just at
the level of what’s happening inside the text. And both of them have
the same problem. One of the things that connects
them is according to them, this notion of
trying to cordon off the national economy as
something that could even potentially be
self-sufficient, politicizing economic relations, which
they see as the right is doing as much as the left is doing. Where I think people draw
connections between someone like Hayek and fascism,
sometimes fairly, most often unfairly, is
usually the connecting figure as Carl Schmitt, right? And I think there,
just as I think it makes sense in some ways to
kind of connect Hayek to Keynes and the kind of
belief in what are the measures
necessary to sustain the whole and the system
against counter movements. Similarly, when one
looks at the way that order liberals
think about the need to preserve the system
against challenges, sometimes they directly
refer to Carl Schmitt’s idea of the need for an act of
will or an act of decision that will come from the elites
and from the politicians at a level from the top down. So there is this notion
of the possibility of an authoritarian
liberalism, which it combines both the points. I mean, it sounds a bit too– it probably sounds
a bit too foggy to say that Hayek is someone
who could combine aspects of both Keynes and Schmitt. But I actually don’t think
it’s that far fetched. Because from one,
you get the notion of systemic interdependence. And from the other,
you get the notion of the need for a kind of
elite moments of decision that cut off other options
for political action when the system is under threat. So far as fascism is a
kind of mode of governance that welcomes this sort of– speaks in the name
of the people, but then also welcomes moments
of bracketing democracy and making decisions in
a decisionistic fashion, then I think that
neoliberalism in practice has often looked like that. But most of the core
principles of fascism just don’t fit well with
neoliberalism as I see it. I mean, the kind of– the invocation of
the single people. The need for a kind of a
constant kind of competition between fundamentally
different peoples. There are certain ways
that perhaps neoliberalism hasn’t grafted onto things
in ways that look like that. But in its kind of
doctrinal form, I mean, it’s something that looks
quite different I think. Thank you. This has been a
really engaging talk. I guess I wanted to kind
of follow up on that, and maybe hear some
of your thoughts in terms of this
tension that seems to exist with the
neoliberals and in particular with Hayek’s kind of concern
for maintaining and preserving this global system of
integrated markets, and this concern for kind
of encasing, as you said, this global system. And Hayek’s more
specific concerns, so to speak, about the
pretense of knowledge as he says in his Nobel
speech, or this inability for elites to actually engage
in specific economic planning. So maybe if you could just
talk a little bit about how you see that tension or
resolve that tension in terms of their approach towards
preserving or setting the stage for the conditions for
global markets to proliferate? Sure, yeah. So I mentioned that
Nobel speech in the book. And it’s not often
noted that it’s in direct response to the
Club of Rome’s first limits to growth report, which
was done at basically at MIT with
computers, projecting certain forms of resource
consumption and population growth over time,
and saying like, oh my god, we need to
drastically cut down the amount of the resources
that the world we’re using, or we are going
to run out, right? And that led to in
the early 1970s, a real widespread
discussion probably to a level that hasn’t been
repeated again of the need to kind of intervene directly
and in quite radical ways to change the way
the policy worked, to change the way that
everyday consumption worked, and in other words,
it was a kind of a high moment of large
scale social engineering. There’s no other
way of putting it. And for Hayek, this is kind
of the opposite of the way that he understands how
policy needs to be approached, right, which is what he
says in that speech, which is to say because
there is at some level a kind of complexity
that extends beyond human
comprehension, we can’t try to know the
whole at such a level that we can make this or
that policy suggestion or this or that forecast. But we need to kind of
default to first principles. So the legal architecture
of something like the WTO I always find fascinating. If you look at all
the journals that are being written
by the people who are involved with
creating the WTO, you won’t find any
numbers in them. You won’t find graphs. You won’t find
projections of how this will affect World Trade. It’s not being actually argued
or built on those premises. It’s being argued on the
premise of legal principles of reciprocity, of most
favored nation, right, of these principles that
exist in a kind of space outside of that of
outputs or testable kind of hypotheses or
statistics-based arguments. So that’s the Hayekian approach
to global economic governance as I see it as one
that doesn’t speak in terms of specific outcomes
or specific deliverables but defaults to a kind of
ironclad principle, which in the end, runs into of course,
a legitimacy problem and revolt from the margins. So the perfect sort of bear
of Hayekian style thinking in recent years is
Wolfgang Scháuble– the finance minister of Germany
during the eurozone crisis when as Yanis Varoufakis
describes, at some point, he’s standing there trying to
explain to Scháuble and other finance ministers why these
measures are going to have a catastrophic effect
on the Greek economy. And they’re not even
pretending to listen to him. They don’t even need
to feign persuasion because what’s under
way is not a moment of intellectual exchange
or the use of kind of rational argumentation. It’s a firm statement
of principle along that is
being now exercised in the kind of a
Schmittien fashion. So that to me is the corollary
of Hayek’s limits of knowledge is this kind of limits
of resistance, right? There’s a moment at which the
state will not and should not give or relent
regardless of what people know that the outcome will be. Next up. Thanks very much, Quinn. You argue in your book against
conventional representations of neoliberalism as being about
freeing and unfettering markets and also the related, I
think, conventional idea of neoliberalism, which
is that its economistic. And I wonder if
the confusion here doesn’t have to do
with the differences between neoliberalism as an
intellectual movement in terms of the Geneva school
and neoliberalism as an actually existing
political culture and political economy. Like, for example, could
some of the confusion here be explained in the
differences between how the drafters of the
WTO explain their work and how Thomas Friedman
defended it at the time in the New York Times? Yeah, I mean, I think that it’s
a conscious decision that I make to kind of to use the word
neoliberalism quite discreetly and sparingly, right. I mean, not sparingly. I use it all over the place. But I use it to
describe specifically a set of conversations around
a very discrete group of people connected to the
Mont Pelerin society. In that sense, I’m
following the work of Dieter Plehwe
and Bernhard Walpen and Phil Mirowski saying that
at some level, the only way we can sort of
salvage this term is by giving it a specificity of
a particular ideology that’s being developed in a long
series of discussions that stretch over decades. So in that sense, I wouldn’t
call Thomas Friedman a neoliberal as much as that
might be shocking to hear, right? I think it’s more useful for
me anyway to kind of keep that word for this
set of conversations that is interconnected. And there– I think even
there, you can, however, draw out serious differences. There is a big difference
between Chicago school, the Chicago School of
Friedman and Becker and Stiegler, which
indeed does bring in some kind of cost
benefit analyzes, which does sort of put price
tags on every aspect of human existence. There’s a big difference between
that microeconomic approach, especially, and the
kind of questions of international
order and global order that I’m talking about when this
category of the Geneva school. So that– I mean, that would
partially be my answer. Yes, it is true that there can
be confusion when neoliberalism is used quite
generally to describe kind of global capitalist
culture since the ’70s or since the ’90s. But as long as you kind of
preserve a kind of specificity to that school of
thought the same way you would talk
about the same way you would talk
about Keynesianism, then I think that one
probably gets further. That would be my argument. Next up. [INAUDIBLE] Can you talk a little
bit about Bretton Woods and how it fits
in this narrative? I’m having a problem placing it. Sure. Yeah, so I have a whole chapter. That’s the chapter that’s
called The World of Rights. And it’s about the
neoliberal critique of Bretton Woods at the time. And as you can probably
imagine, the main thing that they were
criticizing at the time was the capital controls
that were being built into the Bretton Wood’s system. I mean, this would
be a place where Keynesianism and
neoliberalism as proposals for organizing the world economy
diverge quite significantly. The notion that
one could actually control the inflow
and outflow of capital that and that that was a
source of the Great Depression is an argument made
by one side of the– the other side of the
Keynesian spectrum. And the neo liberals were
arguing that no, actually, such flows are– they are balancing,
and they create harmony and they produce a greater– they add greater
stability in the end. So what they were active doing
in the time of the Bretton Woods system was
to sort of argue for the addition of,
as Mark mentioned, the human right
of capital flight, the dismantlement
of capital controls as they’re being
built into the IMF and the addition
of this human right to take capital out of a
country to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, something which
actually was taken seriously by legal experts like
Philip Jessup at the time. So that was their core
criticism of Bretton Woods. They also criticized
what they saw as the kind of scaling up of
the one-man, one-vote model to a kind of one
country, one vote. Even though clearly,
there was quota systems within the Bretton
Woods institutions as they were created, they saw
it as part of the UN system, which had a fundamentally
flawed model, which analogized basically the world to a
democracy in which countries that had relatively little
economic significance should have a say that is at
all equivalent to the countries that had great
economic equivalence. So that was their
critique of the 1.0 in 1944 Britian Bretton
Woods system with the World Bank and the IMF. They actively worked to
undermine the International Trade Organization,
or the ITO, which was supposed to be the third
part of the Bretton Woods system. They undermined it because
it included too many rights for global south nations,
including the right to nationalize foreign
owned property. That was written
into the ITO as it was signed in Havana in 1947. And working with the
International Chamber of Commerce, the
people I describe helped to torpedo that
in Congress, thereby kind of paving the way for
the more provisional model of the GAT. And eventually the WTO kind
of realizes the harder version of the ITO without
the kind of provisions for national economic
development that have been written into it originally. Thank you so much for the stop. I look forward to
reading the book. I haven’t as of yet. I wanted to actually pick
your brain on one thing, which is to do with libertarianism. At what point, to be very
short, does libertarianism take off away from
neoliberalism thought or the way you describe it? And in the sense
that neoliberalism, whether it’s Hayek or whether
it’s von Mises, for them, it’s always the system,
right, this notion of spontaneous
order, or the fact that you can’t
centralize knowledge, which Hayek had on
one of his papers. Whereas, libertarianism,
which is often close to it, is yet different
because for them, the starting point is
always the individual. It’s property rights. You know, Nozick–
individuals have rights, and nobody can do
anything to the rights and rights are kind of perpetual
come hell or high water. Whereas on one
side, neoliberalism has some space built in. Both need the state. But both say no to the state. But neoliberalism still has some
space built in for uncertainty, for future uncertainty
that recognize that can’t know the economy [INAUDIBLE]. Whereas libertarianism,
given that it’s so stringent on property
rights, has this issue of dealing with uncertainty. For example, the big
pharma brought the guy who raised the prices of– [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] right? That’s classic libertarianism. I own the right to this,
and I can do whatever. So how do these two positions
get reconciled by both parties, or they don’t? Yeah, I mean, so libertarianism
is a big tent, obviously, right? And my strong argument at
the beginning of this book is to say that it’s a falsehood
to say that neoliberals don’t believe in the state. If you actually look
at what they’re saying, it’s about redesigning
the state and how can the state be a better shall
for capitalism, basically. And I’m not the first
person to say that. The rollback of
the state is always about the rollout of another. People like Jamie Peck have
been talking about making that argument for years. There are libertarians who
similarly are minarchists, right? That there needs to
be a minimal state. It needs only do
things like protect the rule of law and security. But as soon as you
open that door, he said only the rule
of law and security, then the possibilities of an
intensive if not extensive state I think come
rushing back in. So in a sense, I see
neoliberalism libertarians as sort of part of the
same camp until you get to the truly radical,
stateless libertarians of anarcho capitalism, right? I think the Rothbard wing
and the [INAUDIBLE] wing and those that go with them have
collected now around the Mises Institute for the most
part in the United States, represent something
that is substantively different from the neoliberalism
of someone like Hayek, right? It’s a kind of a dissident
neoliberalism that is no longer making
its arguments on the basis of the need to
kind of protect the whole and somehow be guardians of
the economic constitution or guardians of the system. It’s kind of– in
most versions of it, it kind of discards with
that and just speaks sort of a ruthlessly
mercenary language of individual
self-interest, right? So I think that that
is indeed something that needs to be
categorically kept separate from neoliberalism
as kind of a main line. However, I need to add there
that those very anarcho capitalist have also been quite
open with making alliances with people who are
nonetheless, still interested in using state. So the best example
I can give of that is a guy named Peter
Boehringer who is– he was a libertarian anarcho
capitalist, gold consultant blogger from Munich,
who is now sitting in the Bundestag in Berlin
as a delegate for the AFD, the Alternative
for Germany party. And he’s the chair of the
parliamentary budget committee. So this is something
that you expect– expect inconsistency seems
to be the best principle when you actually follow
the history here. And those moments
of kind of coalition between supposedly properly
anarchistic, stateless, libertarians with forms
of political parties and political
mobilizations are in a way some of the more
interesting places to look. But I think that
they definitely– I think you’re right that you’re
touching on something there that there is self-description
of their own mission that is at variance with the
kind of guardian of the system model that otherwise pertains. [INAUDIBLE] I’m interested in you saying
a little bit more about a word that you used, a
key word [INAUDIBLE] in some of your talk, and
that’s interdependence. Because if that’s a kind
of key word for Hayek, it’s also a key word for a
bunch of people in this period, in the ’30s, ’40s,
’50s, that we would have thought of as cutting
in other political ways. And it suggests a
really ambivalence at the heart of
that word, right? So if for Hayek and
all that you say is more about that, it’s about
connection but inequality. For others, it was
about the sense that the world was
now connected and thus needed to be made equal
to equal that connection on the sense that those– in the center left and
leaning further to the left whether we think of it as
people who were multilateralist or people who are
anti-imperialists or part of the Non Aligned Movement. So I wonder if you just
would say something about the political valence,
the social valence of that that term at that period
because that’s interesting. No, thanks. Actually, I’m
really glad that you ask the question in that way
because it allows me to protest against what has
been already one misreading of this book,
which is that I’m creating a kind of dichotomy between
neoliberal globalism and progressive nationalism,
right, by implication that the only way that one
could– because neoliberals now own globalism according
to this narrative. The only way that one could
have a resistance against it would be to reclaim sovereignty,
the very sovereignty that’s being strangled
by the globalists. The person who I’m
thinking of here is actually the sociologist
Wolfgang Streeck, who recently in a
public discussion said I just read this book. And now I know that
the neoliberals have been at this for decades. And the only way that we can
fight against kind of globalism is by restoring
sovereignty to the nation and thinking more about national
strength, which I kind of was a troubling conclusion
from my book because I like you see globalism
as something that contains many different
political programs as the inside of
interdependence does as well. The best book I can
point you to on this is the Emergence of
Globalism by Or Rosenboim, which just came out
this last year, which shows that precisely
at this moment of the– a moment in which you’ve written
about yourself, the kind of one worldest moment of the 1940s. There’s people who are saying
let’s push this in a more redistributionist direction. And others are saying
let’s put this in a more anti-imperialists direction. And others are saying
let’s use federations as a way to kind of
lock in capital rights and ensure that there can’t be
an expansionary social state. So all those conversations
are happening. The victory of one or the
other is not preordained. And I think what I tried
to do in the book is show these moments
of competition actually more than a
kind of a smooth path for the neoliberal vision
from the ’40s to the ’90s. So I think that keeping an
eye on the kind of diversity of political visions within
a broad idea of globalism is more important now
than ever, clearly, right? I mean, it’s necessary to
not be kind of blackmailed by Trump’s own language into
a kind of just a recovery of globalism as such. One has to obviously see how
there’s so many different forms of politics contained within
that and figure out how we can recover the legacy’s that
we find useful and criticize the ones that we don’t. Yeah, so my question is like how
is this politics of globalism– how has that altered
in the age of Trump, where you have this very right
wing response against globalist bureaucrats and
the EU and whatnot, and then portions of the center
left are kind of against that? And how does this
relate to immigration where parties on the right favor
restricted movement of labor and free movement capital,
whereas members on the left favor restrictions on capital
but free movement for labor? Yeah, I mean, I think you’re
kind of answering the question right there in a
way in the sense that I think that you’re
exactly right that this is the kind of conundrum
that we’re faced with. And I think that
the challenge is to not kind of
default to the nation as the active category of
politics in the sense of kind of like the Lexit position,
that kind of left wing Brexit position, which someone
like Streeck sort of implicitly supports, or the
new kind of efforts that left wing exclusionary
populism in Germany, for example. So I do talk about in
the book that this– how this emerges this– the dropping out of free
labor mobility as kind of one of the central principles for
the neoliberals I write about. So these particular characters,
Hayek and Mises and company, I mean, they do
begin at– they do begin with a demand for
full labor mobility as well. I mean, that’s very
important for Mises. They give it up provisionally in
the 1930s and 1940s in wartime because they’re
writing big books– Road to Serfdom, Omnipotent
Government for Mises. And there they say, as
far as our vision goes, it’s not realistic to ask for
open borders for migration right now because America is
not going to let in Germans and Japanese in wartime. And then Mises sort
of inserts a footnote that is often quoted now
by right wing libertarians, and there is no white
man who wouldn’t shudder at the vision of millions
of black or yellow people amongst him now or
something like that. So they kind of say it’s
the political, geopolitical problems, and cultural
problems that unfortunately are obstacles to the
realization of perfect border free capitalism as we
might want to imagine it. This changes over time. So what becomes a kind of
a provisional carve out of the neoliberal vision ends up
becoming a central part of it. So Hayek in the
late 1970s, famously comes out with a series of
articles in which he defends Thatcher’s immigration policy. And he says she’s actually doing
the right thing by blocking the continuing migration
of non-white people from the Commonwealth
countries into the UK because it’s
undermining social order and people need certain
morals effectively to be good market citizens. So now, barriers on migration,
obstacles to migration is no longer just a kind of
a wartime provisional part of the neoliberal imagine. But it’s becoming like
a central constituent part of the
neoliberal imaginary, and that’s really
where you get parties like the Alternative
for Germany party or the Austrian
Freedom Party, which are totally neoliberal in their
financial and trade positions, and then totally
restrictive and exclusionary in their migration positions. You do literally get some
of these people saying we can do it because Hayek
said we could, right? I mean, I have the writings
of some of the people like– and they’re more
well-educated kind of circles, making these kind of
arguments, arguing for the consistency of it. So I think the answer
to that is what you say, which is push back against
that, deny the idea that international,
national is really a meaningful division in
the era of financialization, understand more how flows
within our countries are also affecting inequality. [INAUDIBLE] capital–
their inablity to control against capitals
flees once you impose control [INAUDIBLE]. Well, I think that,
you know, it’s– Europe is a good example, right? I mean, and Streeck
is a good example. There has been leftist critiques
of the European Union– someone here has written
a couple of them– over the last
decade or so, right, which is basically saying that
kind of free capital mobility and certain kinds of
free trade positions are kind of locked in to the EU. And it’s designed
to kind of make– depoliticize certain
decisions that could be made at the level
of democratic government through things like
the European Commission and the European Court of
Justice, which can overrule individual nation
states to cut state subsidies to national
champions or state owned services of
different kinds. Right, that’s been an argument. But there was also
at the same time an argument coming from the
further neoliberal right, which is like no, Europe
is not the solution. Europe is the problem. And we need to
get out of Europe, because Europe is
a transfer union. And it’s going to turn
into this social Europe, and welfare is going to become
continentalized and stuff, right? [INAUDIBLE] embedded the
economical, social environment of the socialites of the
European Union [INAUDIBLE] opposed. They want to go even
further away from it, right? So I mean, and this is their
logic behind the Brexit campaign as it comes from
certain– the neoliberal wings of the Tories, right? So that doesn’t mean that now we
need to all become Europhiles. But it does mean that we
need to have as sort of agile of a sense of
political possibility as they do in the
sense that knowing that the political content
of different formations is not determined in advance
and is always open for pressure and open for
transformation, right? I mean, anyone who sort of
says but that’s impossible, how can we imagine
it, just needs to think about what it
meant to drop borders inside the entire
Schengen area in Europe. I mean, what does
it mean to drive a car past an abandoned
border post between Italy and Switzerland? I mean, it’s– or not
Switzerland but between Germany and Czech Republic. It’s extraordinary. That’s an extraordinary
experiment to happen without people even
really thinking about it. Now we’re trying to figure out
what that means politically. But nothing is
really impossible. So I think that being aware of
the openness of institutions is something that is
really important for me as a historian, too. [INAUDIBLE] Hi, so before this
talk, I always thought about neoliberalism as
free markets, personal liberty, et cetera, which is I think a
perspective that lends itself well to thinking about economics
in terms of the way we learn it in school here at Brown. So I don’t know if this
is a good question or not. But does reframing
neoliberalism in terms of the global systemic
institutional way that you reformulate
it, does that change the way your
representative neoliberal would look at the efficacy
or the viability of standard economic theory? Can you rephrase the question? Like you think that– yeah, can you ask that again? Yeah, so just
changing the way we– reformulating you
liberalism in this way, does that render,
not monetary policy, but the standard
economic theory of today? Does it render it useless? Or does it– because of all
the entangling institutions and laws and whatnot,
does that change the way we look at
the viability of what we can do with economics? Yeah, OK. I see what you’re saying now. Yeah, I mean, I think that it– I mean, because I wanted to
kind of decouple neoliberalism as a category, which is indeed
often used as a kind of a slur and sort of a curse word
really, by the progressive left, to– and which is fine– but [CHUCKLES] to decouple that
from the practice of economics as such does kind of
intentionally kind of reclaim the
progressive possibilities of the discipline of economics. So that doesn’t sort of mean
that economics is now the hero and neoliberals is the villain. But it’s just– it’s the amount
of the lack of comprehension outside of economics
departments about what the politics of
economics is actually quite extraordinary, right? I mean, the fact that most
economics professors are indeed left of center on the
political spectrum and sees what they’re
doing as in the interest of distributional justice
and some level of equality is not something that most
people I think realize. And so I do kind of want
to let economics a bit off the hook, or at
least not kind of blame it directly for the problems
of the international order because I think that the
arguments that have been made for creating the international
trade architecture, for example, that we have today,
have often been made in idioms that aren’t really that close
to the discipline of economics actually, right? I mean, it’s about– it’s been
about great power politics, for sure, but then
often through this idiom of basically a version
of international law rather than a language of demand
curves and economics per se. So yeah, I think it’s sort
of trying to be a bit more specific about what
conversations the world order we’re in now came out of
and which ones they didn’t. And I think we’re just
about out of time. I’d like to take
this opportunity to thank Quinn for a fantastic
conversation and even better book. And we have a reception outside. You can all eat for free. That’s not markets. That’s something else. Let’s go with it. Thank you. Next week, Rick
Pearlstein is coming. Another fabby historian. So please come again. See you then. [APPLAUSE]

39 comments

  1. Economics turned on its head. Serving investors, and not the public. Bizarre this should be referred to as "free" market, as it is anti "market driven".

  2. Neoliberals love the state, or at least in so far as it protects their personal property and doesn't intrude on them doing whatever it is they want to do.

  3. Globalization and neo liberalism = economic terrorism.
    A system designed by the elite for the elite. In short 'slavery'.

  4. Bought the book, great reading so far, opens the mind and for me, confirms a few view points on what exactly the WTO and EU are, and that's just the first 30 pages. Can't wait to finish the whole book.

  5. The globalist are the Davos crowd. Global Rich Elite united in influencing their own Govts to pursue Neo liberal policies. Today they are very low key due to the realization of the increasingly Popular Backlash. Their game plan now is lie low continue in the background to siphon off all the Money during the robbing period in tax havens so that if and when the Govt comes to get their money its safely stashed away with Govt having no way to get to them.

  6. I actually learned a few things and stumbled upon a few avenues of inquiry and was reassured by the quality of the audience questions, and all before I've had my breakfast.

  7. 11:00 The very descendants of said Austrian chamber of commerce have just pushed through a 12h working day labour law – without provoking a general strike. Strikes were not not being proposed by our labour leaders, for it is their institutional memory of the 'Justizpalastbrand', the Juli-Revolte of 1927, that prohibits this.

  8. Does white-market corporate capitalism under-pin social darwinist liberal/libertarian capitalism or adequately-and-accurately appropriately-and-accordingly social darwinist liberal/libertarian/conservative capitalism? or does social darwinist liberal/libertarian capitalism or adequately-and-accurately appropriately-and-accordingly social darwinist liberal/libertarian/conservative capitalism under-pin white-market corporate capitalism? since we know that the public-and-professional image projected to each-and-every segment of society is neo-liberal/neo-libertarian/neo-conservative white-market corporate capitalism so they shunt-and-shaft established political-legal-economic institution's then shirk-and-shrug to the general public whilst fomenting-and-fostering upon successive generation's through-and-under neo-liberal/neo-libertarian/neo-conservative white-market corporate capitalism so corporate capitalism corrupt's-and-corrodes it seep's in sedates-supplants-and-suppresses each-and-every aspect of culture/collective consciousness community and life-style it seep's in and slivers through and there ain't nothing you can do even as technology democraticises-decentralises-and-devolves only marginal initiated-and-implemented policies-and-programmes are ever forwarded top-down

  9. Neoliberal Freedom for the animal spirits of the top 1 percent to control everyone else, Freedom for them to kill the economy through killing everyone else's Freedom such as being Free to kill them via big pharma monopolies, Freedom to enslave students with a lifetime of debt, so the better to control the masses and pauperize half the retirees…

    And freedom for the top 5 percent to start life on 2nd base of a diamond, and the 1 percent standing on 3rd base. They are pretty free to finally eliminate unions forever and give the 80-90 percent of us ever-rising income inequality … and pretty-soon to privatize public playgrounds and all of public communication on radio, TV and the net.

    All Hail Distributive Justice! Get the Bastards!

  10. I believe all this could be more succinctly expressed in much simpler terms, with minimal "scholarly obfuscation" and still be closer to the truth, thus more revealing and useful.
    Great talk nonetheless.

  11. The Rhodes Centre – are you kidding?
    Cecil Rhodes, the father of globalism in the 21st century.
    His wealth and intentions led to both world wars and the globalisation mess we currently find ourselves sinking into. The indirect death of millions financed by his followers from Oxford. Eventually producing Bill Clinton, groomed to continue the globalist agenda. The name Cecil Rhodes and any affiliation equates to the continued dominance of the British Empire in the 21st century. Not by the sea but by finance.

  12. Rich Jews own the west and are now trying to genocide the white race as is laid out in the kelergi plan because whites are too hard to control long term..

  13. Interesting but undermined by an unthinking Leftist presumption against the nation state. The problem is that without nation states there is no democracy. Put differently as Pierre Manent points out there are no examples of democratic multi-national polities. Empires were multi-national but not democratic. The EU is multi-national but in no real sense is it democratic. It is not accountable either to a European wide electorate or national Parliaments. Its destruction of Greek democracy and contempt for the Brexit vote of a majority of the British people are paradigms. Hayekians' and Neo-Liberals' borderless market beyond democratic accountability but yet policed by central authorities has been created by the EU and this is not a contingent event. There is symmetry here . Democracy and working class empowerment are not aided by borderless markets and polities which promote them. The nation-state – and recovering its vitality in Europe- remains central to democracy and workers' interests.

  14. "Remember when Bill Clinton said that NAFTA would make goods cheaper? Well, they’re not cheaper for you, since waiting tables pays less than building automobiles. Nor are they cheaper for anyone else in your town, since more competition for jobs means lower wages

    https://amgreatness.com/2018/04/04/why-tariffs-will-benefit-american-consumers/"

  15. "it does not matter if free trade depends on completely unrealistic, implausible, contradictory assumptions, as long as it delivers the right answer."

  16. "Free trade isn't really a coherent ideology, but a series of frantic improvisations in the face of economic failure, Theory came a long way after practice, which is why the whole free trade “project” has been so incoherent.
    So what we have is sets of traditional “Right” and “Left” parties which swallowed the free trade poison and are choking on it."

  17. "The essential point is that it’s the free trade ideology that has run out of steam, and to the extent that it was adopted by most mainstream political parties, it’s taking them down with it. Resistance to this ideology has little to do with generation change, immigration, wokeness or any other ideas. It has to do with the total and complete failure of the ideology, and its disastrous effects on society.'

  18. "bill clinton sold the false promise that “getting government out of the way of trade” would unleash abundant opportunities for everyone, lifting all boats. We know how that movie ended.

  19. Many of the trappings of free trade that made its fundamental injustice of preserving the privileges of the ruling classes acceptable were stripped away. No more noblesse oblige. No more caring about the health and welfare of your local community. No more recognizing that the lower orders needed a reasonable degree of stability in order for them to be willing to stay put (in economic terms). And no more defense of families. Laborers sold their services into markets, and that meant they had to be mobile, including uprooting children and moving away from relatives who often provided child care or at least emergency backup, sometimes having partly absentee fathers due to travel, and vastly more women with real careers as a challenge to traditional roles.
    The stresses above have only been made worse by the rise of global billionaire class and wannabes that are too obvious about not giving a damn about everyone else.'

  20. "behind the facade of pragmatism there has remained an unchanging free trade objective: “the maintenance of private regimes of power” – usually social and economic hierarchies – against threats from more egalitarian forces. Once democracy arrived, free traders were faced with a harder task, They needed “to make privilege popular."

  21. "in the 90s under bill clinton, much of the free trade movement “ceased to be empirical”, And without an interest in facts, it is hard to govern well for long."

  22. "free traders fear and disdain protectionists because they directly target the system through which they accumulate wealth and privilege and they threaten their ability to exercise it as a divine right thats inevitable.
    While it’s not pleasant to have to confront the venom which free traders spew in unguarded moments, it’s useful for free traders to reveal the intensity of their hatred and for all of us to recognize the interests they serve(their own)."

  23. "free traders have ruled objective reality inadmissible. their metaphysical concept of reality refers to some land of dark make-believe over a distant horizon where numbers supposedly add up. a closer examination of all that festering material. What they’re liable to find is evidence of how slovenly and dishonest they are about free trade.
    in reality the fear that they will be uncovered as frauds."

  24. "I personally think any Democrat who wants to beat Trump had better recognize that job losses to trade are a huge issue with his voters and pooh-poohing them as not recognizing the evils of automation is…well…a sure loser."

  25. "during the 1990's and 2000's the media, academics, and policy makers had no trouble with the proposition that millions of workers would lose their jobs and industries would shut down and factories would close because of free trade agreements and state led forms of globalization, a new horizon beckoned, which would redeem all of the sacrifices rendering the losses whole.
    the above of course describes a utopian cult to a "T"."

  26. "Free trade rhetoric almost always serves a magical function: It erases ugly, violent political realities and replaces them with clean, natural progress. To its evangelists, free trade isn’t just a way to maximize profits and production. It offers a path to the elimination of human evil."

  27. "I think free traders cling to a world view and push aside facts that are inconvenient to their ideology more than anyone else on the ideological spectrum. You have to work really hard to pretend that “free trade” policies make an ounce of sense, given our massive structural issues domestically and internationally. I find that their logic is often incoherent and has little relation to objective reality."

  28. "free traders are perfectly happy allowing their electronics to be made for starvation wages in an assortment of overseas hellholes, so long as this keeps the price down—may help explain the boiling cauldron of resentment into which Trump is so efficiently tapping.
    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-01-21/donald-trump-and-the-politics-of-resentment/ "

  29. "when fascism came to america, it was dressed in the false claims that free trade spreads democracy and eradicates poverty."

  30. I think one of the greater risks to democracy is our current tendency to measure the legitimacy of our system in terms of GDP. We may soon face a world where authoritarian regimes like China outperforms western democracies economically. If we cling to the growth centered narrative, we risk losing faith in democracy and abandon it for more authoritarian models. We have to start to remind ourselves what we value about democracy, besides its economic performance.

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