A leftie look at the Mont Pelerin Society

A bundle of books from Amazon, Mirowski More Heat than Light: Economics as social physics, Mirowski’s essays on science studies The Effortless Economy of Science and The Road from Mont Pelerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective, eds Mirowski and Plehwe., Harvard Uni Press, 2009.

You probably thought that Pete Boettke and Steve Howwitz and their colleagues are just some regular guys with an eccentric take on economics and politics but you need to be warned that they are a part of “the most important movement in political and economic thought in the second half of the twentieth century”. (426). In other words, they are IMPORTANT  and they are a worry!   The Mont Pelerin Society provides the thread to organise the mass of intricate historical detail that the authors have compiled on the activities of the “neoliberal thought collective” and precursors such as a group associated with Walter Lippmann in France.  

Dieter Plehwe wrote the introduction.   Keith Tribe – the movement in Britain from 1930 to 1980.   Ralf Ptak – the ordoliberal foundations of the social market economy.   Rob Van Horn and Philip Mirowski – the rise of the Chicago School of Economics.   Yves Steiner – confronting the trade unions.   Rob van Horn – on the Chicago attack on the law and economics of trust-busting.   Dieter Plehwe on the origins of the neoliberal economic development discourse.   Kim Phillips-Fein on the role of business conservatives.   Karin Fischer on the influence of the neolibs in Chile before, during and after Pinochet.   Jennifer Bair on the new international order.   Timothy Mitchell on urban property rights in Peru.   Postface, Mirowski defining neoliberalism.  

Mirowski starts with a critique of “Wayward Wikipedia” which he suggests is an example of the neoliberal “open market” agenda, playing out in the world of ideas, “appealing to the vanity of nonspecialists and autodidacts who are convinced that their lucubrations deserve as much attention as that accorded to recognized intellectuals”. p 424  

From the Wiki interlude we get the idea of the “double truth”. While Wiki is open to all it ends up conservative and authoritarian due to the editorial influence beind the scenes. The Mont Pelerin Society is supposed to be dedicated to freedom and spontaneous order, but “neoliberals are simulteneously elitists: they do not in fact practice what they preach” p 425. When they organise things, “the cosmos collapses to a taxis”…”something like the double truth doctrine holds for neoliberal theories of democracy…it also holds for the notion of a ‘constructivist’ approach to social reality”. p 426   One of the main impressions of the book is the way the authors wear their ideological orientations on their sleeves and it is clearly no part of the agenda to provide any deep analysis of neoliberal programs that could explain why apparently intelligent and reasonable people like the Petes and Steve and Dave have got involved in this movement.  

He offers a list of eleven tenets of neoliberalism. Some of them are very strange.   1. “The starting point of neoliberalism is the admission, contrary to classical liberal doctrine, that their version of the good society will triumph only if the becomes reconciled to the  fact that the conditions for its existence must be constructed and will not come about ‘naturally’ in the absence of concerted political effort and organization”.  

This is supposed to hint at contradiction but laissez faire liberalism did not preclude state action in the form of  “construction’, meaning piecemal experiments and instiutional reforms to control the use of force and fraud, to adminster police systems, courts and the laws of the land. It is like the no brainer that Hayek was opposed to planning, so he had to explain that planning is something that people do all the time, the objection is to holisistic or collectivist planning by the state.  

Another pervasive confusion is the idea that the market is a big agent or person, he has not got hold of the idea that a market is something that happens when people buy, swap and sell things. So when someone says that the market will decide the value of my house or car, it just means that the price will be set (subject to negotiation) by the people who turn up and make offers.  

7. Neoliberals begin with a presumption that capital has a natural right to flow freely across national boundaries (The free flow of labour enjoys no similar right).”     Absent the welfare state and there would cease to be a serious issue about the movement of people.

8. “Neoliberals see pronounced inequality of economic resources and political rights not as an unfortunate byproduct of capitalism, but as a necessary functional characteristic of their ideal market system”.   So before capitalism there was no pronounced inequality of economic resources and political rights?  

The “European miracle” (Radnitzky) was narrowing inequalities but at the same time the phenomenon of inequality suddenly became a huge issue and, as Hutt pointed out, the system that was emancipating the masses, by a perverse turn of reasoning, was blamed for the suffering of the poor.  

9. “Corporations can do no wrong or at least they are not to be blamed it they do”.   ?  

Freedom and the Double Truth of Neoliberalism  

Mirowski has not got hold of the fact that there is no answer to the problem of sovereignty (Who shall rule?) and settles for the “majority rule” theory of democracy so everyone can (in theory) participate in the political process. Of course the tyranny of the majority (or of the interest groups who end up representing the “majority”) is no  better than any other tyranny and the most appropriate response, articulated by liberals from Hume to Popper, is to aim for institutional and traditional controls, checks and balances on the rulers (with no guarrantee of success).  

It seems that the simple minded idea of majority rule is on the rise and a US schoolteacher who blogs under the name “Conservative Teacher” has sent a warning based on his reading of pupils essays. It seems they the students generally accept that the outcome of  elections signals that the winners are “in charge” and the losers have no ground for complaint “suck it in, you guys lost!”.    

Consequently Mirowski can only see limited government as a device to disenfranchise the masses.  He manages to trace a line from Adolf Hitler’s crown jurist Carl Schmidt to Hayek (p 443-4). He suggests that Hayek owed more to Schmidt than he realised and so “For Hayek and the neoliberals, the Fuhrer was replaced by the figure of the entreprenneur, the embodiment of the will to power for the community, who must be permitted to act without being brought to rational account.”   From that point of course it is only a skip and jump to support Pinochet in Chile.  

Enough of Mirowsiki, what about some of the other chapers?   Because the chapters are mostly historical narratives, reporting who said what to whom, when and where, objections to neoliberalism  mostly emerge in the form of side comments and innuendo, and by leaving out a lot of background information that might put the neolibs in a more sympathetic light. 

Keith Tribe wrote, regarding Peter Bauer “Like Jewkes, the forcefulness of his critique of state and economy is inversely proportional to its substantive merits.” (p 86) And “Neoliberal economism increasingly domianted the public domain, a discourse on markets and liberty whose lack of intellectual credibility was no obstacle to its propagation and execution.” (p 90)  

In the chapter on trade unions there is a lot on the differences of opinion within the movement, between the Continental approach to get the unions “inside the tent” compared with those who saw a need to confront and control the “strike threat system”.  The author lists a paper by Hutt at the MPS but did not cite any of his major works on the fallacies of collective bargaining, the special pleading of the Webbs and other historians of the labour movement, and the way the unions subverted the rule of law and indeed the democratic process, and the damage inflicted on the unempoyed and the community at large.  

Simarly the chapter on the “Third World” and development issues makes much of the differences of opinion in the movement, and the complications introduced by the process of decolonisation against the backdrop of the Cold War and the objective of keeping the new nations aligned to the West if possible. Peter Bauer emerged as the most important contributor to the dialogue, and to the rejection of the general  statist/socialist consensus on the need for state planning, foreign aid for industrial development etc. Admirers of Bauer will be perplexed by Plehwe’s comments like “Bauer eventually used Rodan’s work (if disengenuously) as witness to government ineffectiveness” (p 264) and “He was not shy (if disingenuous again) to cite Karl Marx as a witness…” ( p 265).

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49 Responses to A leftie look at the Mont Pelerin Society

  1. Billy Wilder

    Rafe is a clown. Why not try publishing a refereed article.

    Even the Boettke crowd laugh at you behind your back. Ever wonder why they never accepted your offer to blog there?

    Loser.

  2. Billy Wilder

    “Of course the tyranny of the majority (or of the interest groups who end up representing the “majority”) is no better than any other tyranny”

    So Norwegian social democracy is no better than Pol Pot or Hitler!

    I wonder what Quiggin makes of you.

  3. Rafe

    Billy, what have you published in a refereed journal lately?
    So far as I know Norwegian social democracy operates under the rule of law and so is not a tyranny. Still, the rule of law and respect for individual liberty is under threat from groups like radical Greens, who think that their concerns trump all other considerations.

  4. THR

    Still, the rule of law and respect for individual liberty is under threat from groups like radical Greens, who think that their concerns trump all other considerations.

    Standard right liberal two-step. Bemoan ‘radical Greens’ but soft-pedal or hide from actual fascist groups whenever they’re around.

    Your objection at point 7 is pure fantasy, unless you think that moving from Vietnam to Australia is as simple as an electronic funds transfer.

    So before capitalism there was no pronounced inequality of economic resources and political rights?

    More hiding behind illogic. Why should anybody accept a rubbish economic system, just because the feudal system was worse?

    Of course the tyranny of the majority (or of the interest groups who end up representing the “majority”) is no better than any other tyranny and the most appropriate response, articulated by liberals from Hume to Popper, is to aim for institutional and traditional controls, checks and balances on the rulers (with no guarrantee of success).

    The ‘interest groups’ are less likely to be ‘radical greens’, and much more likely to be the corporations (and their lobbyists). You’ve merely sidestepped the problem here of liberals/neoliberals acting as craven apologists for all things corporate.

    Having said all that, the book itself looks like a mixed bag, with some chapters better than others.

  5. Billy Wilder – Two points:
    .
    1. This is a peer reviewed paper. It’s called commentary. 🙂

    2. I think Buddy Buddy is a criminally under-rated film and deserved more attention than it got.

  6. The starting point of neoliberalism is the admission, contrary to classical liberal doctrine, that their version of the good society will triumph only if the becomes reconciled to the fact that the conditions for its existence must be constructed and will not come about ‘naturally’ in the absence of concerted political effort and organization
    .
    I think you dismiss this too swiftly Rafe. Classical liberals were all about dismantling the vestiges of feudal society with its tithes and privileges. This process continued throughout the 19th century and still continues in some ways. Neoliberals were part of a concerted effort by various forces to repel certain changes in economic policy created during the 20th century. Certainly these policies erroded economic liberty, certainly there’s certain uncomfortable resemblance between socialism and feudalism, but…
    .
    With classical liberalism there was a battle against the ruling order. Neoliberalism was a backlash by the ruling order against incursions into its power. I think a lot of the gaps between liberal doctrine and the various practices of neoliberal policy which involved too much cronyism to truly be called ‘liberal’ can be explined by this politicl reality.
    .
    Neoliberalism had problems, significant ones. It’d be good if those that understood its advantages explored the bad side as well.
    .
    Corporations can do no wrong or at least they are not to be blamed it they do”.
    .
    I tend to get this impression sometimes. Sorry but I do. Adherants of economic liberalism should’ve howled for blood when Dubya let Enron write the US energy policy. But no. If economic liberalism, moral hazard etc only applies to worker’s wages and the dole and not to the boardroom people are gonna endorse collective control because it will be in their interests to do so.

  7. Peter Patton

    Adrien

    Classical liberals were all about dismantling the vestiges of feudal society with its tithes and privileges.

    Were they really? I’d say they more “about” sitting in the studies of their country manor houses, their Mayfair town houses, and/or their Oxbridge don’s rooms writing weighty tomes. 🙂

    By the time Rousseau, Mill, Ricardo, Paine etc. were scribbling, feudalism had long gone. The real agents of feudalism’s dismantling were nature and traders. Nature in the form of the 14th century Great Famine and Black Plague, which killed off so many (about 1/3 of Europe’s population) that manoralism was no longer feasible, as the former serfs simply appropriated the vacant lands, now ownerless.

    The discovery and plunder of the ‘new world’ provided global markets, satisfied by European mercantilism, which many former serfs moved to the cities to provide the much needed labor.

    It was only after all this tumult and revolution by men of all classes of action, that the “classical liberals’ began to compose their pamphlets on what desirable qualities the new polity should aspire to including the virtues of its citizens. Far from dismantling, the “classical liberals’ were helping to build the newly emerged world, we might call capitalism

    Neoliberals were part of a concerted effort by various forces to repel certain changes in economic policy created during the 20th century.

    No. This is a mistake that is made over and over, mostly by academics who think they are society’s mover and shakers. In fact ‘neoliberals’ were/are not utopians engaging in a bit of necessary ‘creative destruction’ or ‘breaking a few eggs to make an omlette’. They were/are exactly the same as ‘classical liberals’; scribblers responding to socio-economic and political changes that had already taken place and were still as they wrote. Like the ‘classical liberals’ the ‘neoliberals’ were the followers not the leaders.

    It was not the neoliberals who created the upward trend in inflation and unemployment from 1967 onwards. It was not the neoliberals who created market saturation as western europe, the US, and Japan reached their full post-war recovery by 1965. It was not the neoliberals who encouraged states to subsidize the creation of national monopoly industries behind high tariff walls, often financed by US multinationals, with Australia’s car industry a classic example. It was not the neoliberals who created the labor market rigidity that the trade-unions were able to achieve due to the boom over the previous 20 years – a rigidity European, Australian, and American states could not break. It was not neoliberals who were responsible for the consequent decline in US and European profit rates from 1966. It was not the neoliberals who caused the Keynesian welfare states to suffer what was called ‘the fiscal crisis of the state.’

    It was this ‘fiscal crisis of the state’ that the neoliberals responded to. With a strong trade union movement able to achieve significant wage increases, and monopolist producers of consumer and industrial goods able to pass them on to consumers, inflation ran away from government ability to control it.

    As corporations started laying off workers, and their profit rates dropped, state income tax collections began to drop precipitously. Yet, the state’s welfare state (to both citizens and corporations) obligations were politically non-negotiable. How did the states fill this gap between receipts and expenditures? You got it; turning the printing presses on full blast, which exacerbated the stagflation.

    Here endeth Part I of the lesson: And what is the lesson? The consanguinity of ‘classical liberalism’ and ‘neoliberalism’ to new world orders in disarray, largely due to an overweening state-coordinated mercantilism, which both liberalisms posited could be rectified by transferring economic decision-making away from politicians and bureaucrats to er, the people

    Crazy cats, these liberals, hey? 😉

  8. THR

    No. This is a mistake that is made over and over, mostly by academics who think they are society’s mover and shakers. In fact ‘neoliberals’ were/are not utopians engaging in a bit of necessary ‘creative destruction’ or ‘breaking a few eggs to make an omlette’. They were/are exactly the same as ‘classical liberals’; scribblers responding to socio-economic and political changes that had already taken place and were still as they wrote

    I think you’re misread Adrien’s point, and misplaced the emphasis here. The neolibs had a fetish for deregulation, privatisation, dismantling the welfare state, etc. This isn’t as straightforwardly assimilable to liberalism as you seem to think.

    Secondly, whilst it’s true that academics are generally not ‘movers and shakers’, you’ve got neoliberal economists directly writing or advising on policy for governments around the world, central banks, and the IMF, WTO, etc. These guys aren’t cloistered monks, and their policies have had plenty of ‘real world’ impact.

    Thirdly, where neoliberalism differs from classical liberalism is its ability to incorporate wide-ranging elements of post modernism into its practice. This is not the case for classic liberalism. You see this all over the place – all human relations are reducible to the temporary contract, feminism is perfectly acceptable, but only insofar as it’s identified with shopping and not collective action, identity politics allows for multiple ‘subject positions’ to be available on the market place, etc.

  9. Peter – Those are good points. I think it depends on what you call feudalism. I tend to think it’s still around latently.
    .
    I think of neoliberals as all the agents of neoliberalism. Whilst Keynsianism was dominant they developed economic liberalism theoretically and were poised to step in when the dominant policies failed. When neoliberalism became the new way a lot of what happened, happened to the advantage of social elites. This had benefits, I don’t disagree. But the social elites of the days of Mill were qualitatively different from those in the 1980s.
    .
    Classical liberalism and neoliberalism were different in that way. They were also different in their attitudes to institutions of social tradition, like religion. Even if they were exactly the same which they weren’t, the context would make them different. Someone who espouses classical liberalism in the States is a certain kind of conservative. In Louis XIV’s France, a ratbag.

  10. Peter Patton

    THR

    You have not engaged with the reasons, data, historical context and examples, I provided to buttress my view.

  11. Peter Patton

    Adrien

    While there’s a lot in there, for now I want to focus on one thing you said, which THR and I were actually discussing the other day. You say

    When neoliberalism became the new way a lot of what happened, happened to the advantage of social elites.

    Now, I agree with this. BUT maybe because I have a different conception of “elites”. I see “elites” in modern western liberal societies as more functional than structural. That is, our society requires the elite institutions and positions, but is indifferent as to why occupies those elite positions. Ultimately, forms of competition decide. Now, in no way am I arguing that society is always a blank slate and who gets to those elite positions is as random as rolling a dice. But neither do these elites constitute a cohesive class, whose occupation of elite positions and institutions are transferred to offspring and other elite allies, with very limited opening for outsiders to join the inner circle.

    Thus my agreement with your point about ‘advantaging social elites’ is not that neoliberals tried to think up ways to feather the nests of individuals who happened to constitute ‘the elites’ at that point in time. My point is that ‘neoliberalism’ did by necessity create some new and affirm some old elite institutions and positions.

    But where I disagree with you strongly is also ironically, where I partly agree with your

    to repel certain changes in economic policy created during the 20th century.

    Whitlam – and others – reduction of tariffs was a blow to the elites of industrial capital. Thatcher’s ‘Big Bang’ in the City of London was a blow to the cosy cartel City bankers and brokers had enjoyed for centuries. Thatcher’s destruction of the miner’s union was a blow to a cartel that was costing the British taxpayer dearly for no longer required coal.

    What your position assumes, and it is so cognitively ingrained in the leaders of this whole debate surrounding ‘neoliberalism’ is that neoliberalism just fell out of the sky onto a faultless Keynesian paradise, and then – by some extra-terrestrial force – undid this Keynesian Xanadu, for no reason whatsoever.

    The silence about the crisis that neoliberals were offering suggestions about is deafening.

  12. What your position assumes, and it is so cognitively ingrained in the leaders of this whole debate surrounding ‘neoliberalism’ is that neoliberalism just fell out of the sky onto a faultless Keynesian paradise, and then – by some extra-terrestrial force – undid this Keynesian Xanadu, for no reason whatsoever.
    .
    Whoah! I never said there was any Keynsian paradise. For some it might’ve been that. For the likes of me it’d be Hell. I’m not much one for three million rules and waiitng in line all day.
    .
    Ultimately, forms of competition decide
    .
    Yeah. It’s called capitalism. Which is why capitalism is better than feudalism. However one still can and does inherit attributes of status which is why I say we’re still a bit feudal. There’s no starting line for everyone.

  13. dover_beach

    Yeah. It’s called capitalism. Which is why capitalism is better than feudalism.

    Yes, there was no competition in markets during the middle ages.

  14. Peter Patton

    Actually, sorry for attributing the Xanadu remark to you personally, I was just in the mood for a bit of late afternoon hyperbole, and you just happened to be the unlucky bastard who was closest. 🙂

  15. Peter Patton

    db

    Surely that can’t strictly be true. Isn’t trade ‘competition’?

  16. dover_beach

    PP, I was being sarcastic.

  17. Peter Patton

    db

    Fair enough. 😉

  18. Rafe

    I don’t want to spend a lot of time on defining terms and I am not in the least wanting to defend neoliberalism as most people define it (as a term of abuse). The four pillars of my position (which I call classical liberalism at risk of confusion with some other version of classical liberalism) are the usual suite of freedoms, the rule of law including property rights, limited government under the law and a set of moral principles.
    Mirowski’s criticism is directed against something very different and to the extent that the MPS people are my kind of classical liberals then M’s criticism is not worth the paper it is written on.

    Adrien, I don’t see this as a reaction of the ruling class against the erosion of its power, it is a reaction to the growth of government. over-regulation and the nanny state. It has nothing to do with defending corporations right or wrong.

    It is about advancing peace, freedom, prosperity and human dignity. I know just about every ideology claims to do that, so lets compare and contrast…

    “The silence about the crisis that neoliberals were offering suggestions about is deafening.”

    That was one of my points – the authors are either unwilling or unable to state the problems that lead reasonable and humanitarian people (with zero desire for personal power) to support the MPS agenda.

    It has been very hard in the 20th century to get capitalists to support free enterprise because they have found it easier to get onto corporate welfare. Or they just try to keep out of trouble with the Government, like the peak industry bodies in Australis, going along with the Government on climate change until just lately they are starting to wake up.

    “Adherants of economic liberalism should’ve howled for blood when Dubya let Enron write the US energy policy. But no. If economic liberalism, moral hazard etc only applies to worker’s wages and the dole and not to the boardroom people are gonna endorse collective control because it will be in their interests to do so.”

    Fair go Adrien, every goddam US budget is an abomination, (look at the stimulus packages, there and here as well) there are not the hours in the day to complain about every item of rent-extraction and corporate welfare. Places like the Cato Institute at least make an effort. It is like signing a petition against every individual act of torture in the world.

    In fairness to Dubya he repeatedly tried to get up a law to open up the books of Fannie and Freddie which would have sounded the alarm on the impending disaster. But the Dems (who own Fannie and Freddy) had the numbers to block the legislation.

  19. Larry

    Where is the careful line-by-line refutation of Mirowski’s claims? Where is Rafe’s evidence that Rob Horn is wrong in the inferences he makes from the archival material?

    Anyone with any knowledge of these MPS folk knows it is a mix of serious scholars and right-wing hacks.

    Provide real arguments as to why Mirowski et al are wrong. What about Hayek’s remark that he does stuff for money? Is it made-up or is their evidence for it?

  20. Rafe

    I noted some serious errors by Mirowski and I made no claims at all about Rob Horn.
    what is the problem about doing stuff for money? How do you live?

  21. DB – Yes, there was no competition in markets during the middle ages.
    .
    Competition in the marketplace DB, yes. But the market was restrained by various privileges and taxes levied by the dominant classes – church and warrior aristocracy. In fact, as Peter’s poitned out, the origins of the rise of the Bourgeoisie can be traced to the 14th century when various adventurism associated with the Hundred Years war and third sons attempting to establish for themselves entitlements provoked armed resistance.
    .
    It didn’t matter how well you did as a merchant then. You were still kept down.

    Fair go Adrien, every goddam US budget is an abomination
    .
    Adrien, I don’t see this as a reaction of the ruling class against the erosion of its power, it is a reaction to the growth of government. over-regulation and the nanny state. It has nothing to do with defending corporations right or wrong.
    .
    Rafe there is a conflict of interests between those who control capital and those who labour for it. Marx was right there. The New Deal and such was widely regarded by the former as an imposition on its freedom. And quite rightly. There is no conflict between the ‘ruling’ class – there is no ruling class properly speaking. Any government which would impose redistributive taxation and regulation on business practice is acting contrary to the interests of those who own businesses.
    .
    Now my interests personally are in having as little regulation in my activities as possible. I don’t have to deal with this class conflict situation as I’m the sole worker and capitalist in my business. But I recognize that the interests of a worker whose skills aren’t a rare commodity lie in regulation and collective activity. Naturally if that worker has a little nous then their interests might be better served by an open and fair market.
    .
    I’m not entirely sure that the market is such. Talking about free markets is all very well but if the action that proceeds is state investment in military industries or public private partnership debacle like the Skye Island bridge – well it seems not like an actual free market but a collusion between government and certain firms. In that circumstance people will treat free market rhetoric as subterfuge and ignore it. And they’ll be right.
    .
    Fair go Adrien, every goddam US budget is an abomination
    .
    That’s no excuse. What good is the philosophical schpiel if the action is such a distortion of it? In my opinion people will endorse the idea of a free market if the money’s where the mouths are.

  22. Rafe

    I don’t see any fundamental or essential conflict of interests between the owner of a business and the people who work in it. Both can have win/win outcomes if you focus on productivity and stop thinking about dividing up a pie of fixed dimensions. The so-called capitalist needs the workers as much as they need him and the good manager wants to have a harmonious and productive workforce. The militant trade unions have done untold damage by adopting the strike threat approach instead of the productivity boosting approach. There is a wonderful essay by Arthur Koestler on the way the obstructive unions and the inccmopetent toffs almost killed Britain.

    http://www.the-rathouse.com/2007/BH_Appendix.html

    There is no little point in single libertarians jumping up and down about particular parts of a budget with thousands of items – places like Cato with fulltime staff do the best they can. The libertarian writer has to explain the benefits of the classical liberal agenda to people of good will so that over time it becomes harder for parties of all persuasions to get away with counterproductive regulations and interventions.

  23. Larry

    “What about Hayek’s remark that he does stuff for money? Is it made-up or is their evidence for it?”

    ‘what is the problem about doing stuff for money? How do you live?’

    Provide the context in which Hayek makes that remark.

    Yes, I do work for money. No, I would not advocate Stalinism for money.

    So, please provide the context for what Hayek says.

    And are we to assume that you had no complaints about Rob Horn’s chapter? What about the chapter on Chile?

    For someone who not so long ago was saying they had yet to take Econ 100 on the Boettke blog you have some cohones taking on a Mirowski.

  24. Rafe

    You provide the context for Hayek’s remark and explain why it is relevant to anything.

    The chapter on Chile is too silly to be worth a comment.

    I am not “taking on” Mirowski, just making the more limited point that he does not not understand some important parts of the classical liberal/Mont Pelerin agenda.

    What did I say about Econ 100 on the Boettke blog? (I am apparently in dementia).

  25. Chafe Bunion

    Van Horn says the MPS guys advocated one thing and then another when it was made clear that their wealthy donors wanted ‘another’ rather than ‘one thing’.

    His case seems pretty well researched and argued.

    Why is the chapter on Chile silly? Hayek favored dictators under some circumstances right?

  26. Rafe

    So how did the MPS guys abandon their principles by providing what the donor wanted instead of their first preference?

    Hayek favoured limited government in favour of any kind of dictatorship.

  27. Chafe B

    “Hayek favoured limited government in favour of any kind of dictatorship”

    No s**t sherlock!

    You can answer your own questions (assuming you actually read the road fronm MPS & not just Mirowski’s finishing remarks.

    But, short version: Director et al wanted to tighten up antitrust. Donor did not like that. Director et al dance to the pipers tune.

    On Chile: since limited govt (& what does that mean anyhow) was not on offer. How did saintly Fritz Hayek choose when choice was Pinochet vs what was on offer? You said Chile chapter was silly. Why silly? Presumably you’ll be writing up a proper review for a journal (Boettke’s perhaps?) with real arguments.

  28. dover_beach

    But the market was restrained by various privileges and taxes levied by the dominant classes – church and warrior aristocracy. In fact, as Peter’s poitned out, the origins of the rise of the Bourgeoisie can be traced to the 14th century when various adventurism associated with the Hundred Years war and third sons attempting to establish for themselves entitlements provoked armed resistance.

    Many of these privileges were instituted by artisans, merchants, etc., themselves, rather than by the Church or the nobility, and the persisted into the modern world. If they hadn’t, Smith’s writings would have been unnecessary. Further, you’re over-egging your argument here, the new classes that together were labelled ‘bourgeois’, where simply those who by dint of circumstance were no longer noble, religious, soldier or peasant, but freemen, journeymen, merchants, artisans, etc. In other words, they were people who had gradually found themselves emancipated by all manner of changes that were on the wing from the 11th century onwards.

  29. John H.

    In other words, they were people who had gradually found themselves emancipated by all manner of changes that were on the wing from the 11th century onwards.

    DB,

    A week ago I finished reading “God’s Philosophers”. In this text the author put forward the propositions that contrary to the popular view during the Dark Ages the development of knowledge was alive and well, the Church had no problem(for the most part) with the growing importance of Natural Philosophy, and that societal changes were progressing in favourable directions. So I was left with the impression that these so called “epochs”(Dark, Renaissance, Enlightenment etc) were more conceptual conveniences than historical realities. Good revisionist text, made me rethink some of these issues. Below is the author’s link.

    http://jameshannam.com/

  30. Peter Patton

    Adrien

    The living standards of the Australian ‘working class’ in 2010, compared to 1850, hints at what nonsense Marx’s zero-sum game between capital and labor was.

    Increased efficiency, productivity, and gross wealth are achieved by a hell of a lot of other mechanisms than merely screwing wage rates down to subsistence levels. And how that ever-growing wealth pie is distributed is equally as complex, and dependent on context.

    Marx’s ‘increasing misery of the working class’ never materialized, thus neither did its consciousness of being the ‘chosen people’ to lead the revolution. The only people who have gotten increasingly miserable are the bourgeois intellectuals who presumed to lead the working class in its much dreamt about and prayed for revolt.

    The misery of this once Leninist vanguard is today sequestered behind paywalls or in corners of the blogosphere where we can choose not to hear them scream! 🙂

  31. Peter Patton

    John H

    The notion of the “Dark Ages” has been rejected by historians for a couple of generations now. The phrase and the world it described was created by triumphalist scholastics types during the Renaissance, (by Petrarch I think) itself a creation of triumphalist 19th century individualism, etc.

    The “Dark Ages” has been replaced by Late Aniquity, which ended in the 12th century as western Europe really gets going.

  32. Rafe

    The workers were doing well in Australia circa 1900. Visitors were impressed by the fact that ordinary folk could afford to regularly eat meat. We had possibly the highest per capita income in the world but that was before the “Austrlian Settlement” between the labour movement and others, resulting in the White Australia Policy, tariff protection and central wage fixing. And a downward trend in our relative economic performance.

  33. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    Rafe,

    The major reason we had such a high per capita income was the LOW population. Ian McFarlane talked about this in his Boyer lectures.

    It was always going to fall as population increased.

    We laso had quite cheap beef because…..

  34. dover_beach

    JohnH, you are indeed correct, they were “conceptual conveniences [rather] than historical realities”. The problem with them now is that they have ceased being ‘conceptually convenient’ and are now a hindrance in conversations involving the generally intelligent reader because they so often constitute the horizon of what is being discussed and history is never that clear or distinct. And the only people that generally peddle them now are those with a polemical axe to grind.

  35. jtfsoon

    christ homer not another bloody reading recommendation and more half cocked ideas.

    low population caused prosperity? give us a break

  36. JC

    Deb:

    Low population = high per capita income? Could you elaborate here a little more please as I find this assertion quite fascinating.

    We laso had quite cheap beef because…..

    Could I answer it? We “laso” had cheap beef because the price was cheep?

    Am I right, Deb?

  37. C.L.

    The major reason we had such a high per capita income was the LOW population.

    What a dumb observation. A country with a small population can still have a low per capita income, Homer. That’s what the whole per capita thing is designed to clarify.

  38. JC

    No no no, jason.

    Debbie is onto something here that every economist has missed. Perhaps Debbie is attempting to justify Hitler’s push to the east on economic grounds and show us why the Fuhrer was right all along.

    Go ahead, Deb. We’re as curious as hell.

  39. C.L.

    And Homer criticises Barnaby.

  40. Infidel Tiger

    In 1968, Nauru possessed the highest GDP per capita in the world. Then they became a bustling megapopolis and things went pear shaped.

  41. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    wow. think of Saudi Arabia large resources low population, we were similar at the start of the 20th Century.

    gosh another thing Statman hasn’t read about. wow

    this isn’t exactly new no this is catallaxy it probably is!

  42. jtfsoon

    yes homes subsequent policies had no impact on our prosperity, it was all because of population changes.

    and of course we’re exactly like Saudi Arabia/

  43. JC

    You idiot Debbie. The world’s population has never been larger but it hasn’t been richer.

    Wealth/income is not a function of high or low population you intellectual mauler, it’s a function of technology and capital invested per head.

    The two most intensely populated nations, Honk Kong and Netherlands are at the top end of the income/wealth scale.

    And stop it with the reading exercises, you goose. You’re one of the few people I could imagine where illiteracy would help.

  44. Rafe

    What JC said “Wealth/income is not a function of high or low population…it’s a function of technology and capital invested per head.”

    If anything, economies of scale should have boosted our per capita income as the population grew.

    Our rural resources were still being developed at the turn of the 20th century and our mineral resources were hardly developed at all. Bullock teams were still in action, cows were hand milked,,,etc etc.

  45. “I tend to get this impression sometimes. Sorry but I do. Adherants of economic liberalism should’ve howled for blood when Dubya let Enron write the US energy policy. But no.”

    Stop saying that Adrien. I’m going to go all Birdian on you if you don’t cease and desist.

    “The major reason we had such a high per capita income was the LOW population. Ian McFarlane talked about this in his Boyer lectures.”

    This is bloody harsh but I’ll say it.

    You should be fired for this Homer. You don’t understand what capital intensity actually is. You insinuate that the RBA Governor does not know either. You also have the gall to insult us as economic cranks.

    Hand in your degree and your employee accreditation.

  46. Homer, please read Ch 3, 4 and 5 of Salvatore’s International Economics. If you read this instead of the Zimbabwean Journal of Central Banking maybe you’d know what capital intensity is by golly gee!

  47. ally

    Like Rafe – puffery king – champion has any competence to assess Mirowski’s work or the excellent work of RV Horn.

  48. David Hoopes

    Is the name calling necessary?

    ‘Catallaxy’ is a word that the great libertarian philosopher and economist Friedrich Hayek coined from the Greek verb “katallattein”, which means not only “to exchange” but also “to admit in the community” and “to change from enemy into friend” (F.A. von Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty, Vol 2, 1976, pp. 108-109).

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