Weekend Reading: Plutarch: Norm-Breaking and the Collapse of the Roman Republic

There is a world of difference between "the market giveth, the market taketh away, blessed be the name of the market" and "properly-structured systems of property rights and market exchange are the best form of social organisation we have yet discovered for solving several important classes of societal organization optimisation problems". Much discussion of "neoliberalism" blurs these two positions into one—and thus elides the difference between Friedrich von Hayek and Barack Obama: Alexander Zevin: Review of ‘Globalists’ by Quinn Slobodian https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n16/alexander-zevin/every-penny-a-vote: "Every Penny a Vote: Neoliberalism is often conceived as a system of self-regulating markets, shrunken states and crudely rational individuals. Early neoliberals, however, didn’t believe in markets’ self-correcting properties. Instead, as Quinn Slobodian argues in Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, they were concerned above all with establishing governments, laws and institutions in which markets could be embedded in order to make them work as they should–not only at a national but at a global level. This approach was a response to the fragmentation of empires that began after the First World War, and the popular demands for redistribution and self-determination that surged through the nation-states that took their place. When these demands impinged on the free trade order, neoliberals opposed them as a form of juridical trespass: imperium, the authority of territorial states, must not breach the rule of dominium, the boundless sway of private property. In tracing this dynamic, Slobodian draws an intellectual genealogy of the ‘neoliberal world economic imaginary’ from interwar Vienna to 1990s Geneva, and from the furious debates over economic planning that followed the fall of the Habsburg Empire to those that generated the EEC, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the WTO...

#noted #2020-01-31