CES: A Brief History of Neoliberal Problems


Monday, July 17, 2017, 1:50pm

New Directions in European History Study Group

Quinn Slobodian
Associate Professor of History, Wellesley College; Visiting Scholar, CES, Harvard University


The intellectual history of neoliberalism is often told as one of conviction, consistency and coherence with notes of inevitability. As neoliberalism shows its cracks, it is a good time to revisit the problems that have dogged the leading thinkers of the circle around F. A. Hayek for the last seven decades. Some problems are predictable: securing legitimacy in the face of economic inequality and evading the danger of democracy undoing the encasement of the market. Less well known are those covered by my talk: the problems of culture and race (is market rationality the monopoly of certain populations?), design (can markets be made or must they grow?), intellectual property (can owning knowledge stifle new ideas?) and scale (is multilevel economic governance possible or is secession to self-governed zones the only path to security?). A history of neoliberal problems from the inside places the current crisis of world order in a new light and brings us closer to the thinking of those who claim their first allegiance to the superior wisdom of the market.



James McSpadden