Welcome Philip Mirowski (Univ. Notre Dame) (Institute for New Economic Thinking) and Host John Cavanagh (Institute for Policy Studies) (The Nation)

Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived The Financial Meltdown

This book addresses 2 major questions:

[A] How did the economics profession come through the economic crisis that began in 2007 unbowed and unscathed?

[B] How did the Neoliberal Program come through the crisis unchecked and unscathed?

Very Brief answer to question [A]

The book argues that orthodox neoclassical economists were blindsided by the crisis. Their theories were completely irrelevant, so they lost control of initial narrative to journalists & others. It becomes clear nothing will change in orthodox doctrines; yet the economics discipline is protected both within academia and the media due to close ties to finance and the general trend to commercialize knowledge.

More elaborate answer to [B]:

The book first asks: Who are Neoliberals? They are not libertarians or ‘conservatives’; rather, they are the most active and successful faction of the Right in recent times. They are distributed widely, from the Kochtopus to the Federalist Society to the Atlas network of dedicated think tanks to affiliated NGOs and beyond. Their intellectual roots can be traced to a wide set of doctrines including Hayekian political economy, the Chicago School of Economics, and the Virginia Public Choice movement. Their concepts now influence all aspects of human endeavor, from advertising to conceptions of the Internet to paeans to the ‘wisdom of crowds’.

It is now well understood that Neoliberals are not advocates of a small or stunted night watchman state. They regularly demean the state to outsiders, but that does not imply they prefer a weak state. Rather, all their political efforts are devoted to recasting the strong state as one that conforms to their doctrinal imperatives.

Two things are necessary prerequisites for understanding the resilience of Neoliberals through the crisis. First, their core doctrine is that The Market is far smarter than any human being, and this has direct implications for how one should pursue politics. Second, they have developed what the author calls a generic full spectrum response to really dramatic crises. This response uses the economics profession, but does not rely solely upon it. It is far more elaborate than the scenario suggested in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine.

The book outlines the generic Neoliberal political response to the disaster of global warming, then the economic crisis.

In a slogan, for Neoliberals, humans can never be trusted to know whether the economy or biosphere is in crisis or not, because both Nature and Society are dauntingly complex and evolving. Therefore, the Neoliberal solution is to enlist the strong State to allow The Market to find its own way to the ultimate solution. According to Neoliberals, it is the only agency that can be relied upon throughout human history to do so.

Mirowski argues that the role of the strong Neoliberal State is threefold: to becalm and mollify the restive public who are provoked to constrain or neutralize The Market in response to problems; to reiterate and deploy the Neoliberal panacea such that the way to address any (falsely) perceived market failures is to introduce more markets; and finally, to facilitate The Market in discovering its own eventual transformations of Nature and Society which will transcend any economic or biosphere crisis. By contrast with orthodox neoclassical economics, this entails not one, but a whole panoply of diverse ‘policy’ responses, the sum total of which are jointly attuned to bring about the final end of capitulation to the greater wisdom of the ineffable Market.

The author asserts that most progressives don’t fully realize that the phenomena of science denialism, carbon permit trading, and the nascent science of geoengineering are not three unrelated or rival panaceas, but together constitute the full-spectrum Neoliberal response to the challenge of global warming. The promotion of denialism buys time for the other two options; the financialization of carbon credits gets all the attention in the medium-term, while appeals to geoengineering incubate in the wings to swoop down when the other options fail. At each step along the way, the Neoliberals guarantee their core tenet remains in force: The Market will arbitrate any and all responses to biosphere degradation.

The author then turns to the Neoliberal responses to the economic crisis:

Conveniently, the spectrum of Neoliberal policies can be arrayed more or less in parallel with the spectrum of responses to global warming outlined above, because the rough structure of short-, middle- and long-term responses are essentially the same. In the case of the global economic crisis, they comprise denialism, market-based rescue of banks, and financial innovation, and they help us answer the question: How did the neoliberals emerge from the crisis stronger than when it began?

Crisis Denialism: economists had noted that nothing in their orthodox theories had anything whatsoever to say about the global crash, but nevertheless, various protagonists were encouraged to deny that this implied that the theories were impugned in any fashion. In the former case of climate change, the suggestion was floated that existing science did not correctly comprehend Nature; in the latter of economic crisis, the suggestion was that, contrary to all evidence of the senses, economists did nonetheless understand the crisis. The former was fomenting denial on the part of outsiders, the latter emboldened denial on the part of the insiders. The purpose of denialism in both cases has been to sow doubt and confusion in the general public concerning the causes and significance of the crisis in question.

Market-based mitigation: during the crisis a very close analogue was also floated to create new markets to sell off the so-called ‘toxic assets’ that the government would ‘temporarily’ take off the balance sheet of the faltering banks. Market designers were initially brought in to help concoct boutique auctions to somehow actualize and validate the ramshackle expedient of the TARP. In the scramble to quickly implement the TARP, a motley collection of various ‘programs’ were mounted to ‘leverage’ government money with participation of specially induced private investors to vacuum up distressed assets. The obvious prescription of the government taking over the failing banks and forcing their restructuring, deleveraging and downsizing was ruled permanently out of bounds.

Financial Innovation: The prophets of financial innovation are at pains to portray the invention of new pecuniary instruments, practices and products as on a par with the science-based innovation of new physical technologies; in other words, it is the very apotheosis of The Market coming to terms with an evolving Nature. Indeed, one of the first people to promote the notion of financial innovation as a phenomenon commensurate with technological change was the Chicago neoliberal economist Merton Miller. The author asks how financial engineering will help us out of the hole left by the global crisis? He concludes that the promotion of financial engineering is a willfully ideological project.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

142 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Philip Mirowski, Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived The Financial Meltdown”

BevW November 17th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Philip, Welcome to the Lake.

John, Welcome back to the Lake, thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Hi John. Had a power outage as storm swept through an hour ago, but everything back to normal now, I hope. Phil

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Philip, welcome to you as well. Let me start by asking what were your motivations for writing the book?

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 1:55 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 3

I am at heart an intellectual historian of economics. When the crisis hit, I started out thinking: this is the most important economic event of my lifetime: I should write a first draft of its intellectual history. But then—I became progressively fascinated and appalled how (a) orthodox economists and (b) neoliberal theorists seemed to come through unscathed and unchanged, now 5 years on!
They both treated the economy as if nothing was really different before and after the crisis. (Think of the sneering book title by Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart.) It was all the more amazing since they had been utterly blindsided by the onset of crisis. I knew they would soon start dreaming up an Orwellian history to claim none of this ever really happened; hence I felt the need to get there first.
Later, I realized my history could also be seen as a provocation to the Left: they, too, were utterly disoriented by the way the crisis played out. They were not exactly in denial; but they were loathe to analyze their own failures. Above all, the aftermath has become an epistemic crisis of rather drastic proportions.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Thanks on this. Now, into the subject. We will get more into this in the discussion, but what is your take on how “Neoliberalism” survived, even after a devastating financial crisis since 2008?

dakine01 November 17th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Good afternoon Phillip and welcome to Firedoglake this afternoon. John, welcome back.

Phillip, I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me if you address this in there but while there are a few economists that do seem to get the problems in the economy correct, I noticed a few years ago that most economists do seem to try to force the facts into their preconceived narratives such that they are always “surprised

Is it because they are willing to try to force things that so many wrong economists continue to be the “go-to” economic talking heads? Do all these economists and the other neoliberal types think they are immune to nature when the vaunted Market is swirling down the toilet?

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Philip, as you answer other questions, it would be good to clarify your definitions. Many people use the term “neoclassical economics” as the same as “Neoliberalism”. For you, what is the difference?

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Rogoff and Reinhardt were declared frauds early on by Wray and his colleague, but who really cared?

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:03 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 5

Neoliberals weathered the crisis and came out stronger than ever because they have a program, and they stuck to it. They preach the solution to depression is government austerity (when it comes to programs they don’t like) and falling living standards, and obscene inequality is a sign their policies are working. How did this happen?
[A] History teaches most people don’t give up their entrenched beliefs (whatever their content) when disaster strikes (the theory of cognitive dissonance of Leon Festinger). Neoliberals are no different in this respect. [B] Neoliberal ideas have sunk deep into everyday life, even for people who don’t care anything at all about political theory. It seems like there is no alternative to this way of life. [C] The neoliberals have a superb framework of political organizations with coordinated activities. The Neoliberal Thought Collective has developed a full-spectrum set of responses which they use in many different instances of crisis to control the trajectory of accomodation. The Left has nothing comparable in sophistication.

DSWright November 17th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Hello Phillip thanks for stopping by, enjoyed the book.

You note that neo-classical economics ripped off physics, the term “financial engineering” (a degree now offered at MIT no less) confers a token of scientific respectability. Though there has been some notable opposition within finance to using the tools for analyzing physical phenomenon on finance which is mental phenomena.

But beyond that, is economics really a science? It doesn’t pass Popper’s falsifiability test and its predictions are wrong as much if not more so than they are right.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:05 pm

That is a fascinating term: “Neoliberal Thought Collective.” Say a bit more about who is in it. And, why don’t some analysts, like David Harvey and Naomi Klein, see the difference between the Neoliberals and the neoclassical economists?

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:08 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 6

The issue of what a pure empiricist would look like in the history of economics is something I have written on in the past. For instance, the Cowles neoclassicals accused the NBER Institutionalists of being naive empiricists, but I have suggested that wasn’t strictly true.
Economists in general have been besotted with the cultural power of physics in the past; and for many, that meant that theory had higher status. Some deny that now; but I am not convinced.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:10 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 7

Neoclassical economics was born in the 1870s as imitation of physics—equilibrium, utility maximization. For them, the Market is a machine for static allocation of things. This taught today as ‘microeconomics’: the core orthodox theory of academic economics. If something goes wrong, they have a theory of ‘market failures’ to be fixed by state. Hence they believe in a State/Market dichotomy.
Neoliberals, on the other hand, are not conservatives and don’t believe in laissez-faire. They believe in a strong state to impose the kinds of Market Society they think should exist; and the government itself should assume more market-like characteristics. Their key doctrine: the Market as information processor more powerful than any human being. This is their argument against socialism—all attempts at planning must fail. But it is also a philosophy about what it means to be a successful human being.
Neoliberalism was born out of Great Depression, only became powerful in 1980s. They believe the Market itself is mainly an epistemic phenomenon, whereas for Neoclassical economists, they tend to think instead they have special insight into individual minds. Neoliberals don’t believe in ‘market failures’ (Coase Theorem). What seems like failure is merely ignorance on part of populace about the Wisdom of the Market.

cassiodorus November 17th, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Philip, in your book you hint at the idea that an alternative “thought collective” might be formed to compete with the “neoliberal thought collective,” one that wouldn’t be neoliberal. Can you elaborate on this idea?

masaccio November 17th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Professor Mirowski, I like the idea of the neoliberal thought collective. It seems like there isn’t a single father (they seem to be all men) of the general theory of neoliberalism. It seems like even Hayek, the putative origin of the ideas, is just one of many. It seems like there are a number of people who have the same general ideas and they work at various aspects of the theory. When they hit something that resonates with them, it becomes part of the theory.

Do you think there are links other than a general agreement on a couple of major points?

dakine01 November 17th, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I was a Sociology major my first time through college before completing a degree in Computer Science while in the USAF. I am appalled at the lack of rigor and the way most economists seem to fit the data to their preconceived ideas. Most of the econ papers I have read are just amazing in their (mis)-use of assumptions. As a science, Economics isn’t

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Doesn’t the “market” allocate resources through prices? And wasn’t that a failure of the early communists ?

eCAHNomics November 17th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

My question is how do profoundly stupid, morally bereft get into power to begin with.

Disclosure: Economics ABD from NYU. Every course, except one, was useless. I was working in the field & self-taught, but needed the “union” card.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Philip, we’ve given you quite a task to respond to all these questions coming from different quarters, but if you get a chance, I’m curious if you could say more about the timing of Neoliberalism becoming “powerful in the 1980s.” This, of course, was the era of Reagan and Thatcher and Kohl, and the rise in power of the World Bank and IMF globally. Is this what made it powerful? Or were there other forces that were also important?

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:16 pm
In response to DSWright @ 10

This question of “Is economics a science?” comes up with great frequency in blogs, and indeed, the history of economics. I feel I have been wrestling with it my entire life; but certainly from More Heat than Light onwards. I know people want to apply some philosopher’s criterion (like, say, Popper), but I have come round to the position that this debating trick itself misses everything that is interesting about the question. Wade Hands in Reflection without Rules nicely captures some of my reservations.
As for the finance engineers, many of them proudly call themselves ‘econophysicists’ because they feel imitation of physics will guarantee scientific outcomes in economics.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:18 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 11

On the Left, all economists tend to get sort of lumped together as an undifferentiated deluded mass, especially if you are a Marxist like David Harvey. But this is not entirely their fault, since the two categories do overlap in certain instances.
One very famous neoliberal—Milton Friedman—was also a neoclassical (a complex straddle); but many others are decidedly not. And then there is the further added complication that the orthodox economics profession itself has taken on a more neoliberal tenor in last few decades.
Finally, the Neoliberals did call themselves that in the 1930s-50s, but then they stopped the ‘neo-‘ designation cold, opting instead to pretend their movement had a long and hallowed genealogy dating back to classical liberals in the 18th century. This served to muddy the waters in a manner that the NTC actually quite liked. I talk about this a lot more in the book.
Bottom line: Economists may be coming from very different places, and this has been utterly opaque to outsiders. Examples: Tyler Cowen is neoliberal, Paul Krugman is not. Rhaghuram Rajan is neoliberal, Janet Yellen not. One judges this partly by their affiliations, and partly by specific doctrinal commitments. (I hate to make things worse, but there are also self-conceived Left Neoliberals: Cass Sunstein, for instance, or Larry Summers. I do not endorse their self-identifications.)
Naomi Klein became famous arguing that something like neoliberal economists took advantage of crises to impose their policies; but other than capitalizing upon popular disorientation, she did not delve into how their specific political practice was linked to their characteristic intellectual doctrines. Sometimes, like in her recent writings on global warming, this leads her astray.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:21 pm
In response to masaccio @ 15

People often have various misapprehensions concerning intellectual history. Mostly they like stories of the lone ineffable genius and their faithful followers. This rarely does justice to actual movement of thought through historical time. To counteract this, I use terminology (adapted from the sociology of science of Ludwig Fleck) of a ‘Neoliberal Thought Collective’. This story of couple of hundred figures from many different countries who built up the Neoliberal project over 80 years. Hence Neoliberalism resists being reduced to a few encyclicals from Friedrich Hayek.
The core group has been the Mont Pèlerin Society (founded 1947), never more than 500 members at any one time. Some of its most famous members have been Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Lionel Robbins, Karl Popper, James Buchanan, Gary Becker, Richard Posner, Robert Barro, and Douglas North. As time went on, NTC built up more and more elaborate outer rings of organizations, such as think tanks (IEA, Heritage, Cato, Atlas, Stockholm Network), affiliated groups like the Federalist Society, media organizations like Fox News and the Murdoch empire, and dedicated political action firms to create ‘astroturf’ organizations, funded by people like the Koch Brothers. It is a collective because the same person often plays very different individual roles in the different rings of the organizations. One example is Richard Fink, who in one guise is on the faculty at George Mason; in another, is President of the Koch Foundation; in another, founded the precursor to Americans for Prosperity (a Tea Party astroturf organization); and in another, has served on the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve. When he appears in the media in one capacity, he never mentions his other roles. Thus the NTC structure smoothly combines the funding and generation of ideas, the broadcast distribution of ideas, and political activities based upon those ideas.
I want to stress that all members of the NTC do not agree on everything; in fact, there are a few quasi-national factions within it. First there is the Chicago School of Economics; there are the Austrian school (but not in Austria anymore), the German Ordoliberals, and the Virginia public choice crowd. What is interesting is that these differences are never allowed to splinter the overall organization.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 2:22 pm

And where would you place Warren Mosler and ilk in that rogues gallery?

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Philip, you raise global warming in your response about Naomi Klein. One of the really interesting things about your book is that you examine Neoliberal thought not only around the financial crisis, but also with respect to global warming. I think most readers will be surprised by this. Say a bit more about this.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Thank you for joining us this evening, Phillip and John.

Phillip, isn’t neoliberlism, the notion the a self-selected elite should control everything, the culmination of hundreds of years of effort to comport greed with piety, even with being, as Blankenfein put it, “God’s work”? Consider how quickly after the “greed is good” pronouncement that we have the strong rise of neoliberal “thought”. I recall reading Pierre Bourdieu’s definitions back in the late 1990′s and thinking, that it was made to order for the unfettered greed and limitless power addicts, whom I regard, quite frankly, as a pathology on the species.

Beyond your own efforts, do you see any formidable or significant push back against neoliberal “thought” at any economics departments or business schools at any “major” university in this nation, or elswhere?

DW

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

In this answer and in the book, you mention the Koch Brothers as key funders of Neoliberal institutions. They are now the number 4 and 5 billionaires in the United States. Is their financial support of Neoliberalism purely ideological, or can you show that they are making a lot of money off of Neoliberal policies?

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:28 pm
In response to cassiodorus @ 14

This is an extremely important and pertinent question; I despair of inscribing an answer in this little box here. Let me just say– the early neoliberals understood that ‘laissez-faire’ wasn’t working in the 1930s/40s, and convened a semi-closed debate at Mont Pelerin to survey the waterfront as to how to amend and revise their story and their political activities. They didn’t come up with much solid for a while, but they understood that staying in the long game would eventually produce results. I don’t see anything remotely similar occurring now on the Left. Am I mistaken about this?

masaccio November 17th, 2013 at 2:30 pm

You mentioned Richard Posner, a Judge on the Seventh Circuit, and a self-proclaimed public intellectual. He recanted some of his views in the wake of the financial meltdown. Does this take him out of the NTC?

DSWright November 17th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

In the book you note David Graeber’s book debt first 5000 years as an example of seeing markets as “timeless entities with timeless laws” along with Rogoff and Reinhart’s This Time is Different – which you say is particularly wrongheaded for the Left.

Can you expand on that here and why is recognizing the uniqueness of current circumstance so important going forward?

masaccio November 17th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Are you aware of any members of the NTC, economists or not, who have backed away from their views in light of their obvious failure?

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Is anything remotely similar occurring on the Left? In academia, there are groups attempting to offer a counterpoint, groups like the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts. And, in civil society, there are groups like National People’s Action, the Center for Community Change, the Campaign for America’s Future, and my own Institute for Policy Studies that are putting out counter-narratives. But I agree with you Philip that it isn’t on the size and scale of the Neoliberals.

clambake November 17th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I was interested in your discussion of risk and its primacy (okay, second to “freedom” actually)in the neoliberal mind. This is everywhere. I recently read about a study of our city– and one of the “metrics” by which we were judged was how many start ups we had. There was much consternation because our start up rate was not as great as the cities we were being benchmarked against. But the other cities were more economically depressed! It is as if risk is an end in itself. The question was asked “what can we do to promote more start ups”?
Is there any going back? It seems like it should be self evident that more risk taking (on the part of the non elites. Elites don’t take risk) is not going to pull us out of this mess, but this idea seems to gain traction by the minute.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:35 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 19

John: I agree there was an inflection point in the 1980s. My feeling is that people tend to say something like ‘Keynesianism failed’; but that is way too simple. Clearly the political tide turned, but there are a host of other factors that are not well dealt with in contemporary history of either the American or European right. For one thing, 1980 is the beginning of a different mode of organizing research and knowledge generation– I write about this in ScienceMart. There is the capture of some international agencies, as you rightly point out. But, strangely, I think the real intellectual energy shifts out of the Mont Pelerin Society and towards the novel next generation of think tanks, which leads to new forms of political action for the NCT. It is a fascinating question how so many dramatic changes can all be traced to such a short window.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 24

I think most people on the Left don’t fully realize that the phenomena of science denialism, carbon permit trading, and the nascent science of geoengineering are not three unrelated or rival panaceas, but together constitute the full-spectrum Neoliberal response to the challenge of global warming. The reason this array qualifies as Neoliberal are two-fold: initially, they were all proposals originating from within the array of think tanks and academic units affiliated with the neoliberal thought collective; and then, if and when they come to be deployed in tandem, the net consequence is to leave the entire problem to be solved, ultimately not by the State, but rather by The Market. The promotion of denialism buys time for the other two options; the financialization of carbon credits gets all the attention in the medium-term, while appeals to geoengineering incubate in the wings as techno-utopian deus ex machina to swoop down when the other options fail. At each step along the way, the Neoliberals guarantee their core tenet remains in force: The Market will arbitrate any and all responses to biosphere degradation, because it knows more than any of us about Nature and Society.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

There is an interesting story-line on the left about this. Many say that the backers of Neoliberalism and the Right invested heavily in ideas in the 1960s (in people like Milton Friedman) and those ideas gained public acceptance by the late 1970s, which is what accounts for the political shift to the right and the election of ideologues like Reagan and Thatcher in the early 1980s. They say this to argue that Progressive funders should likewise invest in groups that can generate ideas to counter the Neoclassicals.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I consider that there is a profound failure of imagination on the left, currently, Phillip.

Although many, on the left, recognize the necessity of change, they are most reluctant to provide a genuine vision of a civil society (and economic “system”) that is just, humane, and sustainable.

Without a clear destination, a description of what would be “better”, more reasonable and not so destructive of humanity, of life, and of the planet’s capacity to support human life, I can imagine no way that the many will find any desire or energy for the hard-lifting such a revolution in thought, first, and then in the real world, must entail.

I’ve not given up hope … yet, and imagine that if the human imagination can be encouraged (and that is the word) to consider a more healthy world and a respectful and honest economic system which makes available to all human beings the resources necessary to life, to more than mere survival or simple subsistence, to the true realization of all human being’s potential, then I am convinced a new renaissance is not only possible, but absolutely inevitable.

Frankly, if our species does not come to value life above money and power, then we very likely will not be much of a burden to this planet in not too many decades.

We have reached the existential crunch point, all of us, and permitting a few to control everything is not a prescription for success or survival.

Extinction may well be us.

DW

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:44 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 25

The NTC is certainly a great boost for existing elites; but what is interesting is to try and understand how they don’t conceive of themselves as rank apologists. Indeed, that is what a lot of the book is about.
As for resistance to neoliberal economists, sure, I have many friends and acquaintances who spend their lives attempting this. What seems to be missing is any collective effort to bring all those attempts together for helpful critique and intellectual support. INET was supposed to do this, but as the book hints, I have my doubts.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Except that carbon credits are nonsense and cannot hope to fix the environment. Who believes that shit anyway? I got this here bridge in Brooklyn near where I grew up for sale cheap.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 36

DW, if I could throw in a few thoughts on this. There is a lot of work going on around alternatives to Neoliberalism. A decade ago, I joined two dozen people from around the world under the auspices of the International Forum on Globalization to write “Alternatives to Economic Globalization.” It laid out 10 alternative principles around which to organize economic institutions and healthier societies. Today, groups like the New Economics Foundation in London, the New Economics Institute, and the New Economy Working Group are attempting to build an alternative scaffolding as well. These efforts reject the notions that economists alone can solve much of anything, so all are are multi-disciplinary.

cassiodorus November 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Most of the “Left” these days is delusional — they think Barack Obama is one of theirs. There may be a genuine international “Left” in South America, or among movements like the Zapatistas or the MST in Brazil.

Have you read any of Jason W. Moore’s essays?

http://www.jasonwmoore.com/Essays.html

Moore argues that we are rapidly approaching “peak appropriation” and that the capitalists will not be able to further transform the world at some point simply because what they do is too destructive and because technological transformation is not making the capitalist system more robust. The Internet prolonged capitalism, but not for long. Monsanto made profits with genetic engineering technologies, but this won’t last for long either.

In your book you argued that the neoliberal response to global warming will be 1) denial, 2) cap-and-trade schemes, and 3) geoengineering. It’s easy to see how all of these responses will fail in rather swift order, and that we are in for more systemic collapse, and nobody is really doing much of anything about it.

Why do you think neoliberalism is so dominant, if they seem so obviously poised for further failure?

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 39

Sounds like a start.

spocko November 17th, 2013 at 2:48 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 35

You say it is as “story line” Are you are talking about the Powell Memo, by former Supreme Court Lewis Powell?

The memo called for corporate America to become more aggressive in molding politics and law in the US and may have sparked the formation of several influential right-wing think tanks[5] as well as inspiring the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to become far more politically active.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:49 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 26

I apologize to everyone. I am having a little trouble keeping up.
The Kochs are a wonderful object lesson– the NTC is powerful because it commercializes and marketizes and profits from ideological commitments that they hold. They believe this is similar to Calvinist grace– it is a sign that Truth is on their side if they make a little profit off of what they honestly consider to be doing the Lord’s work.
I point out this is one of the salient characteristics of Tea Party activity: much of it is small-scale entrepreneurial attempts to profit from their own shindigs.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Philip, you argue that part of what the Neoliberals do is to deploy ignorance and doubt as weapons in the war of ideas. You use the term, “Agnotology,” to describe this. Say more about what this has been so effective.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 2:50 pm
In response to spocko @ 42

There are those who mark that as the start of the assault on the middle class. By the end of the seventies it was rolling along.

dakine01 November 17th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Take your time. This is very informative and at your pace is fine

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 2:53 pm
In response to masaccio @ 28

I have overheard some neoliberals disparage him; but he is still a member of MPS, I think. Also, the Becker/Posner blog is still vintage neoliberalism, last time I looked.
Unlike some parts of the Left, they don’t immediately drum apostates out of their various drum circles. People don’t know this, but some very early members of Mont Pelerin were (sorta) Keynesians. However, they soon dropped out.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Where does OWS fit into all this? Any chance it will help?

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
In response to spocko @ 42

Spocko,
I’ve read the Powell Memo and I’m curious whether Philip thinks it played a role in the upsurge in Neoliberalism in the 1980s. The Powell memo came out during a period in the early 1970s when many in big business and many Neoliberals thought they were losing. People like Ralph Nader were being quite successful in passing legislation that put some checks on corporate behavior. Powell appealed to the 1% to invest heavily in think tanks and Washington DC lobbying, and the 1% took him to heart. By the end of the 1980s, tens of millions of dollars were flowing into Neoliberal think tanks and into lobbyists.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 39

John, it is most heartening to hear what you and Phillip are saying, and certainly among those economists I know there is much talk and excellent efforts to reach those who are already thinking. However, as with the environmental movement, the opportunities of wider audiences is very slow in coming, and likely, for the same reasons. Realistically, we cannot imagine that the establishment media will seek to cover, in any depth, these ideas that oppose the current vogue, so a more clandestine “arrangement” must arise, even as we face a TPP that well could severely limit the power of the internet to inform where the fourth estate refuse to venture.

One notes, with some pleasure, that Richard Wolf is now gaining some serious attention among many who would never, until recently, have dared look at Marxist analysis.

I asked Phillip about universities, as my experience, back in that long ago time, was that little beyond the conventional economic “wisdom” was “taught” or even willingly discussed.

;~DW

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 35

In the 1980′s the Democratic Leadership Council officially formed. The Koch brothers donated. The DLC has now pretty much taken over the Democratic Party.

Where Democrats used to push back against Republicans on many policies, New Democrats now do so only to a much more limited extent. I have to believe that contributes to the current power of neoliberalism.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 2:58 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 48

Bluedot,
I feel that Occupy Wall Street was a kind of primal scream of democracy by the majority in this country that was left behind, or hurt, or marginalized by the Neoliberal policies that have dominated since the 1980s. And, by pointing out that the main beneficiaries were giant corporations and the 1%, OWS captured the sentiment of the many. OWS did not win a shift in policy, but it changed the national conversation and made inequality a subject for dinner conversation. Very important.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I believe the Keynesians have themselves split into two. The new Keynesians (Krugman) and post Keynesians (Wray and Mosler).

spocko November 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Thus the NTC structure smoothly combines the funding and generation of ideas, the broadcast distribution of ideas, and political activities based upon those ideas.

This is an excellent summation of what we are seeing. And I can tell you that it provides Entire profitable career paths for many people. I like to tell people things like, “Did you know that the Heritage Foundation has 12 full time PR people pitching their authors and “scholars” to print, tv and Radio? That they have their own TV studio where people can easily broadcast from?
Did you know that just one of the Murdoch properties (New York Post) LOSES 80-100 million a year?
Did you know that besides hiding money in PACs, individuals and groups can dump 100′s of millions in stink tanks and groups like ALEC and the State Policy Network to actively implement their ideas? (See the site stinktanks.org about the funding of the State Policy Network

And providing an CAREER for all this, thinkers, writers and activist happens widely on the right, but on the left we are expected to do the work for free because we are true believers, hence we look those people to other activities.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
In response to DSWright @ 29

Again, to do this justice would take a paper. I hope you can accept I don’t want to shoot from the hip.
In brief, grand overviews centuries long actually do little to illuminate what is so interesting about the current crisis. I know people love to graph comparisons with the 1930s, but in fact, there is much about it that seems very different from the Great Depression. For instance, governments loom much larger in economies than they used to; and financial instruments are very different from what they were back then. I like Perry Mehrling’s online MOOC about the financial system, which makes this point in nice detail. Lately I have been looking into bankruptcy law as something which makes the current crisis much worse; likewise computerization and demutualization of stock exchanges. I could go on and on. Graeber does nothing to illuminate any of this.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:02 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 52

OWS did not win a shift in policy,

Yet. I do not believe OWS is done. But money is a factor. I wish the left would support OWS with time and money instead of taking glee (it seems) in declaring it dead and ineffectual. (I do not mean you for I share your view of the importance of having changed the national conversation when all it was at the time was “Grand Bargain” and “how much are we going to cut OASDI”.)

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:02 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 52

Unfortunately it is seemingly dormant. But this next election may have a strong conversation about inequality as a legacy.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Nixonclinbushbama,
Yes, Clinton followed a lot of the Neoliberal policies of the Reagan years, and Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council played a key role. Yet today, just as the Republican party has its Tea Party wing and its more establishment Wall Street wing, the Democratic Party is split between Clinton’s “New Democrats,” who are essentially Neoliberals, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, with its 80 members who attack inequality and push for genuine climate solutions and oppose unjust wars. But, do they have an overall coherent economic theory? Not one as powerful as the Neoliberals, however wrong-headed the Neoliberals are. Philip’s book is an outstanding expose of how ideas can both be so wrong and yet so enduring.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:05 pm
In response to masaccio @ 30

Early on (40s-60s), there were some who dropped out– Lionel Robbins is one high-profile figure. But if you are asking do I know of any turncoats since the crisis hit, truth be told, I can’t think of any. But this is probably more an artifact of my deplorable lack of knowledge of the entire modern crew, rather than a solid fact.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Exactly, and wwell said, spocko, and yet we, many of us, continue to do it “for free”.

How many are motivated by the thought that if they don’t “do” it … it won’t, simply, get done?

And it is in developing ideas, the diligent search for better and more sustainable pathways to a better future, for all of humanity, beyond the daily outrages, the slow grinding destruction, that we all must continue to look towards.

DW

tuezday November 17th, 2013 at 3:07 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 50

There is some hope. This weekend Anonymous held Marches Against Main Stream Media in both the US and UK. For, among other things, not reporting anything on Fukushima.

masaccio November 17th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Here’s what I don’t get. What is the point of the neoliberal movement? Is it an attempt to gain power for the sake of raw power or to make more money for the filthy rich? Is it a big fraud, designed to make money for the members of the NTC? Do they have some conception of human nature they want to impose on us? Is it some kind of religion0like movement? What do you think?

spocko November 17th, 2013 at 3:11 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 50

As with so many things, I agree with you.

Realistically, we cannot imagine that the establishment media will seek to cover, in any depth, these ideas that oppose the current vogue,

I some times ask book authors (including economics book authors), “So, what publications and TV shows has your PR team placed you on?” Have you been through on camera media training? What groups are you speaking at out side of academics? How many 10′s of thousand of dollars are they paying you for your speeches?”

This makes them cringe because it doesn’t really happen. I personally have helped two different authors on this stuff. I’m prepping an author for an appearance on ObamaCare on Fox Business for Wednesday. He just lucked into the gig, but had I not arranged it he would have no professional prep. Because there is no money for it.

Also, since if you are good on Fox you don’t get invited back, we have to keep training new people. That is something people outside the industry don’t see. Producers call you they know who is ‘safe’ and it takes a lot to get a new face camera ready and if they are too aggressively different and don’t ‘place nice with the conventional wisdom” they aren’t invited back. I know this from my work with three spokespeople who kicked ass on the show vs one who was milquetoast. SHE was invited back.

DSWright November 17th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Philip you note some interesting history regarding people who actually called themselves Neoliberals in early part of the 20th century, people who now pretend there is no such ideology, and libertarians who drifted into Neoliberalism such as Milton Friedman who you note said he ideally agreed with zero-government libertarianism but thought it was impractical.

Then libertarianism is compared with neoliberalism in which you submit neoliberalism involves embracing (rather than rejecting) a powerful state to push an agenda.

Is there room for opposition between libertarians and Neoliberals and should progressives try to align with libertarians against some of the policies Neoliberalis pursue that libertarians would also object to? For instance using the surveillance state to enforce market norms.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:11 pm
In response to clambake @ 32

This is just my opinion, but I think one topic on the agenda of a quasi-MPS of the Left (should one ever exist) should be how to extirpate this entire corpus of ‘risk’ as a serious analytical category for a future social science that exists to understand the economy. I have written a bit about the work of Benoit Mandelbrot as one possible route to that end. Risk is an artifact of the historical accident of the imposition of inappropriate stochastic and inductive models to (finance, human thriving, human thought, life, etc.). ‘Decision theory’ is one conduit through which neoliberal ideas sluiced into the economics profession.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:11 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 58

Yes, nice summary. In my view the left is seriously hampered by the lack of a coherent and shared economic program. OWS, however, has added something here, weak as it may be, called inequality. And not to belabor it that problem can be fixed.

Phoenix Woman November 17th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

So these are the core “Galt’s Gulch” people?

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

For those worried that we’ll never break the back of Neoliberalism, just look around the world. Just a decade ago, dozens of countries were under the Neoliberal grip of the World Bank and IMF. Many broke free, some with financial help from China or Venezuela and Brazil. And, today, China is much more of a hybrid economy. India as well. Brazil as well. In other words, the most dynamic economies on earth are no longer largely following Neoliberal policies. So, thinkers in other countries are breaking the Neoliberal dominance. But for all the reasons that Philip lays out, it may take longer for its grip to be broken in this country.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:15 pm

We are running the economy as if it were a firm and so the theories that affect firms are thought to affect the economy. They do today but they do not have to. The federal government can forever make those ideas irrelevant.

spocko November 17th, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I recognize several of those words.

cassiodorus November 17th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 69

We are running the economy as if it were a firm. And the firm’s name is “Enron.”

hackworth1 November 17th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 58

push is a rather strong word when connected with the Prog Caucus.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:17 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 68

Except then there is Europe.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:18 pm
In response to cassiodorus @ 40

I am falling further behind. Sorry.
Jamie Peck in his book on Neoliberal Reason has a lovely phrase that I will undoubtedly garble. He says Neoliberals fail in their political projects, and then take advantage of that failure to promote their next preposterous project. Don’t look back, and certainly, erase your relevant history.
It is this incongruous sequence of failure and further triumph that I wanted to confront in the book, with many specifics with regard to the crisis.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:20 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 58

With a New Democrat in the Oval Office, the members of the Prog Caucus (which has lost members since Obama took office), make noise, but ultimately vote with the leader of their Party, first Clinton, then Obama.

I’ve learned to disregard the talk (and letters) and watch the ultimate actions.

Also, IMO, a lot of kabuki goes on in Congress.

hackworth1 November 17th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

The Free Market is a sham, of course. That The Market is a centerpiece of Neolib Doctrine makes the whole thing – Neoliberalism – a sham.

The Market is corrupt and corrupted from top to bottom. The invisible hand (of the Free Market) is mythological. Is it not?

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

You must be giving establishment economists severe heart palpitations, with spot-on analysis of that sort, Phillip.

Great good on ya!

(There we wuz, panning fer gold, we explainers of the economy, when the sluice just opened up and we done saw the light, to the pure delight of those whom we service and serve!)

DW

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Don’t worry about falling back. You are doing great.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:23 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 44

Agnotology is a big word for a set of neoliberal techniques forged in the battles over tobacco causing cancer, but now spread to numerous other areas. The basic insight is that you can buy time and fend off government control if you consciously produce doubt in the minds of the public. This is the Fox mantra “fair and balanced”. You simply insist that experts disagree, more research is needed, and then invent a crazy theory which shows that nothing is really as it seems.
It is usually pitched as some form of denial: cigarettes don’t cause cancer, pesticides don’t kill birds, global warming doesn’t exist, nothing went wrong in markets in the contemporary economic crisis. I think people don’t understand that the neoliberals don’t really think they will actually change the science—rather, they just want to confuse people long enough so they won’t engage in collective action to fix the problems. In the meantime, the neoliberals generate their own supposed market-based solutions, recruit some scientists on their side, and then occupy the entire political space of possibilities in the medium term.
Neoliberals don’t think widespread ignorance in the general populace is a bad thing. Since the Market is smarter than any of us, we have to learn to prostrate ourself before mysteries we can never hope to understand. Humility means accepting entrepreneurs know more than we do because they are in closer touch with the heart of the Market.
This is one reason Silicon Valley billionaires like Peter Theil are paying kids to drop out of universities and pursue business plans instead.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Aye, Phillip, you’re doing superbly well in this blizzard of questions. And, we appreciate the fact that you’re nae giving us a snow job.

;~DW

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I think I agree with part of that. I think the left can’t agree on the weather most days. How in hell will they ever confront the Koch brothers? My way, or no way.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 3:25 pm

As these exchanges point out, a key part of Philip’s book and argument is to make the point that ideas matter. Ideas are critical to history. This book shows how billionaires like the Koch Brothers have invested in ideas to perpetuate the very policies which precipitated the crash of Wall Street and the corruption of our politics. So, I agree wholeheartedly with all the comments which suggest that the benevolent part of the 1% that is for the 100% needs to invest in alternative ideas. And in getting those ideas out to both organizers and to the media. There are many great grassroots organizing efforts building in this country such as National People’s Action and Jobs with Justice and 350.org and they are embracing alternatives to Neoliberalism. They too need more resources.

CTuttle November 17th, 2013 at 3:26 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 68

Aloha, John and Philip…!

You do have major pushback happening in Europe, besides the BRICs… Swiss outrage over executive pay sparks a movement in Europe

BevW November 17th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Philip,
You are doing fine.
Thank you!

spocko November 17th, 2013 at 3:27 pm
In response to masaccio @ 62

This is a really good question. I eagerly await an answer.
I will respond from my own experience. I have a relative who I can now see how he might be a Neoliberal. (BTW i hate that the word liberal in their. As someone who wants to reclaim the word liberal it bothers me, but I digress)

One of the ideas that he clearly latched on to is the “wisdom of the Market”
He latched onto this in the abstract and believed it when it came to an entire market (telecom) and some individual companies. MCI/Level 3 for example. He invested heavily in them and lost his shirt, pants and a body part.
Yet he still maintains that ‘the market is always right” it’s just that HE didn’t figure it out correctly.

What I knew, because of my involvement in the telecom manufacturers market was that there were forces that weren’t really “the market” that were impacting him. Things like government deregulation and foreign countries that had industrial policies that didn’t care about making money, but were happy to flood the US market with equipment at a loss in order to gain access to a market. It’s hard to turn down equipment with huge government subsidies.

Yet ideologies he blames himself, because he “just didn’t have enough information” I believe that only insiders have “enough information” and they often change the rules to benefit themselves in ways you can’t know, but that it’s not the mystical market doing it. There are real people making decisions and creating policies. And if you are big enough, you can change those markets.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:27 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 48

It won’t win me any friends, but I suggest in the last chapter of the book that the format of OWS itself owes something to ‘everyday neoliberalism’, and that, in turn, could explain some of its inability to persist in the face of obvious police suppression, the breakdown of some of their offshoot programs (like the debit card), and the general loss of momentum.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Been so far through this and still no talk about our favorite topic: Obamacare. Where do you place that in this neoliberal,paradise? Short game or long game? What comes,next ?

Phoenix Woman November 17th, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Unlike some parts of the Left, they don’t immediately drum apostates out of their various drum circles.

I’ve always wondered about why American right-wingers are far less prone than American left-wingers to doing this sort of self-destructive purging, particularly where electoral politics is concerned.

One possible answer: The ingrained belief of many on the left that to take part in the system at all is to help perpetuate it, when one should be rooting for the Great Collapse to happen so that the lefties can somehow rush into the power vacuum and establish a worker’s paradise. (How this would happen when the righties are the one organizing themselves into well-armed militias is not something I’ve ever heard explained.)

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Since the Market is smarter than any of us, we have to learn to prostrate ourself before mysteries we can never hope to understand.

Greenspan claims that the crash of 2008 took down his all encompassing faith in the wisdom of the market.

He, too, has recently written a book. It’s about what he learned from 2008.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:31 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 49

I know there are a fair number of historians of the rise of the American Right who tend to portray the Powell memo as a turning point. I want to be careful here, because it is something I have never looked into in any serious way. Nevertheless, I have to confess I don’t see much evidence of the Powell memo in the NTC stuff I have looked at, both in archives and in published stuff. But then again, maybe that was not the way it got used to do some serious fundraising.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Phillip, I often ponder the the consequence of the current lack of what was once called “Philosophy 101″, in the educational experience of many, where fallacious argument, false equivalencies, and so on, may be discussed and studied. The attack on useful education is also part and parcel of the deliberate neoliberal impoverishment of the human spirit.

When humanity comes to learn of how the mass of human beings is being driven into the poverty of despair and the destitution of conscience, one imagines that a full-on revulsion will result. My concern is that then the demagogues will have a true field day, if there are not coherent ideas that the many may rally around, not “blueprints”, but opportunities for many to express what sort of society and economic “system” they think might best serve their needs and interests.

DW

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

On Occupy Wall Street, my own Institute for Policy Studies spent a great deal of time with the encampments around the country, and we spent a lot of time pushing out the narrative on the corrosive effects of inequality. We then housed Occupy DC for 4 months after they were kicked off the streets. In that time, I came to appreciate that the larger progressive universe is like an ecosystem where we all play different parts. Occupy Wall Street’s job was the be the primal scream of democracy, to point out the hypocrisy, to point out that the American myth of everyone having an equal chance to climb the ladder was dead. The ladder was broken. They changed the national conversation. It is now up to the many other parts of the ecosystem to generate new ideas, to work with organizers to get them out, to work with media experts and with the alternative media to get them out to the public. Occupy Wall Street played its part. There will be future Occupy-like movements, but they will be different and they will build on what Occupy left behind.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

I had high hopes for it and to be honest I am hoping it can still help with the issue of income and wealth inequality. Hilary won’t use it but Warren or her supporters could,

Phoenix Woman November 17th, 2013 at 3:33 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 68

Thanks for that reminder. Latin America doesn’t want to return to neoliberalism. Even Honduras’ coup was made possible by the US’ refusal to protect Zelaya.

And considering the Kochs are working on buying up US media, I can see why Philip thinks as he does about the US.

CTuttle November 17th, 2013 at 3:35 pm

and the general loss of momentum.

That is a fallacy, brought about by the MSM’s deliberate suppression of any news coverage on the multitude of direct actions carried out by OWS and other public advocacy groups…!

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:36 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 88

I realize it unfashionable to say so, PW, but perhaps the whole Left-Right divide is less important than finding common ground, on a common planet with the common plight of the many, whatever their ostensible political “identification”?

I think it more complex than simply “them” and “us” … as our common threat is from the masters, and NOT each other.

DW

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:36 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 88

I certainly think there are element of that. But there is an extreme impatience on the left and strong tendency to always be right with little or no compromise. My way or,the highway, you know.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Yet, there is Occupy Foreclosure, Occupy Sandy.

OWS changed shape, but it is not done.

And, if it got more support, it could do more.

spocko November 17th, 2013 at 3:37 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 81

Why would you want to confront the Koch brothers? Where’e the money in it?
However if you WORK FOR the Koch Brothers you can pull in 150,000 grad a year for years and years.

American’s for Prosperity will pay people to travel around the country to teach them how to be ‘citizen journalists” and attack liberals, local governments and progressive groups.

Someone like the great group the Center for Media and Democracy that exposed ALEC and keeps track of the Kochs barely scrape by. I would love to get paid to work for them, but they can’t afford it. So I do a bit of volunteer work. Imagine if all of these people on the Right who are getting paid were cut off tomorrow. Would they still do the work for free? Or might they have to go get jobs selling penny stocks and Amway?

BTW, you all should know that we did such a great job convincing the corporate advertisers that they should not associate with Rush Limbaugh that the right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation are now paying for ads. This is a direct subsidy for Rush, and it’s worth it to them. In a way he is selling their “product” every day.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:38 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 95

Here is hoping it is alive and well to help in the next election cycle.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:40 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 88

The ingrained belief of many on the left that to take part in the system at all is to help perpetuate it, when one should be rooting for the Great Collapse to happen so that the lefties can somehow rush into the power vacuum and establish a worker’s paradise.

I think a relatively small number on the left believe that.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:41 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 100

Hoping will not do it.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:41 pm
In response to masaccio @ 62

You know, masaccio, it is hard to characterize the motives of a crew that currently numbers in the thousands. Even back when it was smaller, the motives probably included all of the above, plus some more you did not mention. I write, for instance, of Hayek’s own personal double truth doctrine: people were too stupid to understand the true telos of the market, he preached, and yet, Hayek wrote as though he himself had some special dispensation to see what was veiled from others about the True Meaning of the Market (freedom, the vessel of Civilization, etc.) Some of my friends kid that because we must humbly prostrate ourselves before the Mystery of the Market, Hayakians are just one more perversion of Christianity.

Phoenix Woman November 17th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

There were definitely like-minded rich conservatives thinking along Powell’s lines around that time and a little after; many were motivated by the Nixon scandal, which they felt happened because they didn’t control enough of the news media. The most active one was William Simon, who insisted that conservatives stop funding the “wrong” colleges and think tanks and set up their own instead, as well as founding or buying up media outlets. He, the Olins, and the Wylys were very active in pursuing this goal.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:43 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 96

We need to find a way to make bridges to the right. It really does have to be the 99% versus the 1% because the 1% hold all the cards and own all the politicians.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:43 pm
In response to spocko @ 99

I want to beat them to beat their Tea Party to destroy their ideas. But that can’t happen without some unity on the left.

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I think another possible game changer that could help derail the Neoliberal dominance is the other topic that Philip takes on (in less detail than the financial crisis) in this book, namely global warming. All the old economic theories (with Keynsianism at the lead) get thrown out the window in a world of climate catastrophe.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:43 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 97

And yet is that not ubiquitous, bluedot12, among even the “factions” at a site like this? One notes the name-calling, the ad hominen attack, the haughty, “Give me a break!” and so on …

How do you propose this be changed?

The divide is this, essentially; there are those who hold the firm belief that the current system, political, economic, whatever, may be fixed, may be saved … while others honestly consider that it is about as “fixed” as possible, that it cannot be “saved”, nor should it, for our very survival on this planet clearly requires something VERY different, from what is being, not too politely, shoved down everyone’s throat, from the “new normal” to the austere necessity of gutting the social safety net … and it is the legacy political parties which endorse, defend, and make “legal” the neoliberal “way”.

DW

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:47 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 81

We can have that discussion another time.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:49 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 106

Rove, Scarborough and the Republican Establishment are better able and better motivated to take care of the Tea Party than the left is, but that has nothing to do with Philip’s book.

Edit: No, “nothing” is wrong.

DSWright November 17th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

The Market giveth and the Market taketh away (mostly to the rich, from the poor).

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

A final question, Phillip, would not the TPP really solidify neoliberal hegemony? And must it not be challenged, to great degree, with precisely that concern?

DW

karenjj2 November 17th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Thank you, Phillip, this is a very enlightening discussion of your work.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
In response to karenjj2 @ 113

A most superb Book Salon, karrenjj2, for certain, and much appreciated.

DW

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
In response to DSWright @ 64

Before I answer the political question, I just want to state here that somebody still needs to write the definitive history of the uneasy coexistence of the Neoliberals and the real libertarians, if only so people would stop the horrible habit of conflating the two. Indeed, Angus Burgin’s book The Great Persuasion falls down badly right here. It is my impression that neoliberals use simplistic libertarian notions to recruit the naive young, only to later disabuse the chosen few who get recruited into the NTC from all those Liberty Fund camps of all that nonsense, once they become apparatchiks. The recent purge of libertarians from the Cato Institute is just one more example of what is a great untold sequence of similar bait-and-switch moves by the NTC.
Now the political question. Yes, I think a serious Left quasi-MPS would debate whether this split could be exploited to the Left’s advantage in a more systematic manner.

BevW November 17th, 2013 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the last minutes of this great Book Salon discussion. Any last thoughts?

Philip, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book, and neoliberalism.

John, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Philip’s website (Notre Dame) (Institute for New Economic Thinking) and book

John’s website (Institute for Policy Studies)

Thanks all, Have a great week.
If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

FDL Book Salon has a Facebook page too

John Cavanagh November 17th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and investment agreement endorsed by Obama that would include a dozen countries that border the Pacific Ocean, would be just the latest in a set of rules for the Fortune 500 and against the 99%. It reinforces Neoliberalism. It deserves all of your outrage and opposition.

Phoenix Woman November 17th, 2013 at 3:54 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 96

Why is it then that US lefties tend to have a harder time forming and staying in groups than do US righties? As Professor Mirowski has noted, and as was made apparent in yesterday’s Book Salon when the subject came up concerning why there aren’t any liberal replacements being groomed for the likes of Judge Damon J. Keith, there simply isn’t a liberal counterweight to the organized and well-funded movements on the right.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Thank you Philip and hosts.

masaccio November 17th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I saw Parsifal at the Lyric Opera last week; and your comment makes me think that the point of neoliberalism might be to replace religion’s reliance on a supreme being with a Supreme Market, the creation of Holy Fools.

DSWright November 17th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Thank you for your answers and your time.

Philip E. Mirowski November 17th, 2013 at 3:54 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 67

I am never going to do justice to all the remaining comments.
Here, I just want to point out that Randroids are not neoliberals. Ayn hated Hayek, as revealed in Jennifer Burns’ fine biography.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:55 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 117

That seems to be a topic the left agrees on as far as I see.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:56 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 118

You said it yourself PW: “Well funded.”

The money on the left goes to the neoliberals, too.

And media coverage is part of “well-funded.”

Phoenix Woman November 17th, 2013 at 3:57 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 117

And I notice that it’s getting it in Congress, likely as a result of long toiling by the EFF and other groups, which laid the groundwork for the Wikileaks leak of the TPP draft last week.

That leak horrified a number of people, right and left, who have been trained to reflexively sneer in contempt at the mention of Wikileaks.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 3:57 pm

You’ve been outstanding, Philip. We really appreciate it.

bluedot12 November 17th, 2013 at 3:58 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 118

But the answer is simple: my way or the highway.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 3:58 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 118

Well, “we” will, likely, never be well-funded, and there will be further bifurcation. However, a wee bit of mutual respect, tolerance, and courage might do wonders, day to day.

Frankly, the Hillary and Hubby Bubba $how will mark a major divergence, and I must wonder how much longer those who consider themselves “the left” will be able to maintain even a semblance of unity and shared purpose.

Ah well, time will tell.

DW

CTuttle November 17th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Yes, I think a serious Left quasi-MPS would debate whether this split could be exploited to the Left’s advantage in a more systematic manner.

In my personal experiences, my Occupy has disaffected libertarians, and, work together great, altho, we do differ on the long-term goals…!

Mahalo, Philip, John and Bev for this excellent Book Salon…!

spocko November 17th, 2013 at 4:01 pm
In response to John Cavanagh @ 107

I read a lot of science fiction and the authors are often trying to describe a world where the economics have profoundly changed. (As you might note my name Spocko is from Star Trek)

I wonder about an economy where they have “replicators” where raw materials can be turned into almost anything. Where you have “and can control” massive energy. We are now starting to see 3D printers. We don’t have any Zero Point Energy but image if we did.
How might the availability of cheap energy and “download the bits and print out the product’ change our world?
One of the things I was describing to someone the other day was that way that capital can easily move around the globe and they have few restrictions, but with labor it is harder. However with the advent of the internet and cheap connectivity we see the outsourcing of a number of functions but without the concurrent protections that labor had acquired in other economies. My friends in Silicon Valley made the tools that made outsourcing jobs to cheap labor in other countries possible. That’s bad enough, but what infuriates me is when government rewards sending jobs away.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 4:02 pm

My great appreciation to Phillip and John, for a fine and invigorating Book Salon.

As well, as always, Bev, I thank you for making all this happen, time and again.

And, as ever, my appreciation to all commenters and denizens of the Lake.

Namaste

DW

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 4:02 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 123

Well, some still believe that Obama will do the right thing in the end.

However, I think the right rank and file would object, too.

Thing is, we have no bridges to them that I know of. Well, No Labels, but that is more neoliberal than the DLC and Third Way.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 4:04 pm
In response to masaccio @ 120

I think it’s about money and power.

They like us focused on social issues, but they keep their own eyes on the prize(s).

Richard Lyon November 17th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I have read the book and found it to be an excellent mind expanding experience. One of several important messages that I took away from it was that the games that go on between the two parts of the political duopoly are very consciously designed to maintain the status quo. The present regime has been in power for over 40 years and it will take far more than the recent crash to dislodge it.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 4:07 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 128

A lot of the posters at a certain Democratic board are for Hillary. The others are for Warren, but state their willingness to hold their noses and vote for Hillary if she is the candidate.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 4:08 pm
In response to Richard Lyon @ 134

I am going to buy it and this is the first time I have posted that at a book salon.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 4:12 pm
In response to Richard Lyon @ 134

P.S. Maintaining the status quo–without a lot of difference when administrations and majorities change– is considered to be the healthiest thing for the financial markets, so of course, they are bound to perpetuating the status quo.

That is one of the reasons both betrayal parties want us focused on social issues and nothing but social issues.

We heard so much about the War on Women but very little about TPP.

karenjj2 November 17th, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Yes!

frmrirprsn November 17th, 2013 at 4:16 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 88

Mirowski’s “they” are the Neoliberal Thought Collective, not right wingers. In fact, right wingers have been willing to accept minority status in the senate to maintain ideological purity. Think about the purging of Mike Castle and Richard Lugar, whom the Democrats were not going to beat, among any number of others. And the right wingers don’t have people who rely on their votes calling them f@#king retarded.

It’s one thing to support people you believe are making things better, but not as much or as fast as you’d like. It’s another to accept the claim that they’re making things worse more slowly, so cheer louder.

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 4:25 pm
In response to karenjj2 @ 138

Clinton said Professor Carroll Quigley and JFK were his two biggest influences. That is what Carroll Quigley “preached” about the markets and changes in administrations.

Keeping us focused on social issues and only social issues is my observation, but is a logical outgrowth of the Quigley sermons.

DWBartoo November 17th, 2013 at 4:33 pm
In response to frmrirprsn @ 139

Well said, frmrirprsn.

DW

nixonclinbushbama November 17th, 2013 at 4:58 pm
In response to frmrirprsn @ 139

It’s one thing to support people you believe are making things better, but not as much or as fast as you’d like. It’s another to accept the claim that they’re making things worse more slowly, so cheer louder.

I agree with DW. Very well said, especially the cheer louder part.

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