ABSTRACTS, SLAGMARK #74
Philip Mirowski: The Political Movement that Dared Not Speak Its Own Name
This article addresses the following four questions: Why do people think the ‘neoliberal’ label is so very awful? Is it possible to pin down what neoliberalism signifies, and how you can tell a neoliberal when you encounter one? Do neoliberals often tell the truth about their doctrine? And, finally, has the Neoliberal Thought Collective changed in any relevant ways as we approach the present? Answering these questions, the article attempts to point to how we can construct a reliable history of a group of intellectuals who have managed to turn their meditations into a political movement on a global scale.
Keywords: Neoliberalism; Political movement; Mont Pèlerin Society; Thought collective; Networks
Dieter Plehwe & Matthias Schmelzer: Marketing Marketization – The Power of Neoliberal Expert, Consulting and Lobby Networks
This article takes stock of the current literature on neoliberalism and discusses its conceptual benefits, challenges, and avenues for further research. In particular, the article focuses on the transnational network around the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) and its activities in marketing the marketization of formerly non-market spheres. Rather than taking for granted pre-existing shared norms, interests, and principled beliefs, this focus helps us understanding the importance of long-term transnational intellectual efforts to develop, shape, prioritize, and generalize specific perspectives and preferences that predated the societal changes associated with the neoliberal ‘counter-revolution’ against planning and the de-commodification of the welfare state. After setting out key advantages of this research agenda, the article provides a rough sketch of the MPS, its structures, evolution, and transnational think tank network. The article ends with a short example of such a transnational network approach in studying the unmaking of the Bretton Woods monetary system.
Keywords: Neoliberalism; Mont Pèlerin Society; Networks; Marketization; Bretton Woods
Jacob Jensen: Disenchanting the Public Interest – Neoliberal Contestations of the Common Good
This article revisits the origins of neoliberalism, arguing that it arose in the socialist calculation debates in the 1920s and 1930s. In these debates, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek contested socialist conceptions of the public interest, claiming that the market’s price mechanism was far better able to represent the many different preferences that a modern mass society consists of. The market, they stressed, was far more efficient at coordinating the economy than state planners who would never be able to calculate or aggregate the necessary data on people’s preferences, which was required to direct markets. This contestation of the common good, the article argues, has been a mainstay throughout neoliberalism’s intellectual history, serving as the revolving point of post-war analyses of government failure.
Keywords: Neoliberalism; Public interest; Ludwig von Mises; Friedrich von Hayek; Socialist calculation debate
Hagen Schulz-Forberg: Early Neoliberalism
This article maps the early conceptual and institutional history of neoliberalism, arguing that the social question was of vital importance to the ideology’s early development in the 1930s. This has been overlooked in recent intellectual histories of neoliberalism, which focus primarily on the post-war period. Those who have ventured into the prehistory of neoliberalism have primarily focused on the neoliberal acceptance of stronger state intervention in the economy, but without contextualizing this shift against the background of the social question. In addition, the article explores another overlooked dimension of early neoliberalism, namely the transnational institutional efforts that were indispensable to the foundation of the neoliberal network.
Keywords: Neoliberalism; The social question; IIIC; Interwar period; International institutions
Rasmus Skov Andersen: Inequality for All – Neoliberal Views on Inequality from the 1930s until Today
By exploring the ways in which inequality has been represented in neoliberal ideology and how neoliberal views of inequality have changed, this article illuminates some essential discrepancies and contradictory beliefs in the neoliberal thought collective. The paper argues that the views of inequality underwent fundamental changes from the early neoliberals of the interwar period to the later neoliberals of the post-War era. These changes are in part understood by different conceptions of liberty, the relation between the state and the market, and beliefs about the public interest. The early neoliberals problematized the relation between inequality and power, which they saw as a potential threat to the credibility of the fundamental freedom rights upholding the democratic society. This changed with the late neoliberals, for whom inequality became a value in itself, connected to liberal notions of competition, diversity, and progress. Inequality was now to be celebrated, represented, and measured as a sign of the free society and the well-functioning market.
Keywords: Neoliberalism; Inequality; Freedom; State; Market
NIKLAS OLSEN: THE CRISES OF THE WELFARE STATE AND THE RISE OF NEOLIBERALISM IN DENMARK IN THE 1970S
This article traces the rise of neoliberalism in Denmark to the so-called crisis of the welfare state in the early 1970s, where a new liberal offensive was launched within the ranks of Venstre – The Liberal Party of Denmark. The article shows how new liberal ideas were launched by a generation of politicians who all connected the crisis of the welfare state to a growing public sector, which they regarded as inefficient and undemocratic. In the attempt to counter the crisis in question, they did not aim to abolish the welfare state but to reduce its size and change its content. The aim was first of all to create competition in the public sector. In this process, the liberal politicians launched new ideas concerning decentralization, free choice in the public sector, and economic growth, which formed the pillars of the new liberalism that was developed within Venstre in the 1970s.
Keywords: Neoliberalism; Denmark; Welfare state; Crisis; Democracy; Efficiency
Jesper Jespersen: Neoliberalism as Dominant Macroeconomic Discourse
This paper demonstrates that mainstream General Equilibrium Models (GEM) are dominated by neoliberal ideology. These mathematical models are pre-designed to always converging full-employment equilibrium and private-sector equilibrium. The behavioural equations are derived from the assumption of individual utility and profit maximization and the rational expectation (full foresight) hypothesis. Accordingly, policy recommendations consistent with GEM are neoliberal as they advocate (1) avoiding demand management; (2) balancing the public sector’s (structural) budget; and (3) leaving monetary policy to an independent central bank with responsibility for price stability; while (4) distributional and environmental consequences for production are considered irrelevant. This is illustrated by examples from the Danish macroeconomic environment where GEM (ADAM and DREAM) employed by the Treasury and the Council of Economic Advisors are dominant when it comes to medium and long-term policy recommendations. Finally, the article challenges this logic and objective foundation of mainstream macroeconomics.
Keywords: Neoliberalism; General Equilibrium Models; Denmark; DREAM; ADAM
Luise Li Langergaard: The Entrepreneur in Neoliberalism – Capitalism, the Individual, and the Organisation of Welfare
The article explores the central role of the entrepreneur in neoliberalism. It demonstrates how a displacement and a broadening of the concept of the entrepreneur occur in the neoliberal interpretation of the entrepreneur compared to Schumpeter’s economic innovation theory. From being a specific economic figure with a particular delimited function the entrepreneur is reinterpreted as, on the one hand, a particular type of subject, the entrepreneur of the self, and on the other, an ism, entrepreneurialism, which permeates individuals, society, and institutions. Entrepreneurialism is discussed as a movement of the economic into previously non-economic domains, such as the welfare state and society. Social entrepreneurship is an example of this in relation to solutions to social welfare problems. This can, on the one hand, be understood as an extension of the neoliberal understanding of the entrepreneur, but it also, in certain interpretations, resists the neoliberal understanding of economy and society.
Keywords: Neoliberalism; Entrepreneur; Social entreprenership; Capitalism; Welfare