bunk: F.A. Hayek & Stanley Fish – “Neoliberal” Villains in Arms?

“Neoliberalism” is a term hard left academics in Latin America have long used as their preferred pejorative label for a grossly cartoonish and dishonest mischaracterization of the ideas of classical liberalism and those like F.A. Hayek who have worked to develop those ideas. The term is now going mainstream among leftist academics in America, and they are swinging the term around with such glee that they’ve managed to smack fellow leftist Stanley Fish squarely in the face with it. Fish is fighting back with a response that includes an account of “neoliberalism” that is itself a grossly false and dishonest mischaracterization of classical liberalism and the beliefs of Friedrich Hayek. Whether Fish understands how simple minded, dishonest, and false this account is I wouldn’t expect Fish much cares about. But it’s funny to see these guys standing in a circle firing their false and cartoonish and dishonest political theory blunderbusses at one another.

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2 Responses to bunk: F.A. Hayek & Stanley Fish – “Neoliberal” Villains in Arms?

  1. Jonathan says:

    Well it is obvious to people like you and me that “liberalism” has changed over the years. I laugh when I hear New Liberals use Thomas Jefferson as an example of liberalism or when they quote Mussolini, “Fascism is anti-liberal” so this removes them from the title of fascist even though they continue o Nationalize the market and spread Socialism.

    From what I know neoliberalism, it is the opposite of Classical Hayek liberalism. Hayek liberalism is modern economic Conservatism or Libertarianism.

    I like your post because it exposes how people can distort or twist one mans beliefs to promote their own. They seem to rely on ignorance from the people who will not take the time to research.

  2. gan says:

    Hayek’s purist concept of the Free Market has no inherent relationship to the concept of ‘freedom’ as it is commonly understood in society, as it is simply the privileging of the rights of powerful actors in the private sector over any other actor in society, be it they in government or within civil society (i.e. the two basic pillars of a functioning democracy). It’s not that it leads to a more free society, or for that matter, even a healthier capitalist market. The free market fundamentalism espoused by Hayek and his intellectual descendants lead the US to repeal the Glass Steagall Act in 1999 (a 1933 FDR era program meant to save capitalism from itself) under the ideological assumption that markets are inherently self-correcting and should be ‘set free’. This line of thinking was of course was wrong (even loyalist Alan Greenspan admits that now) as it opened the doors for the massive economic crisis we see today. If anything the derivatives market was the purest expression of Hayek’s free market principles ever created in human history (i.e. nonexistent regulations) and it created mass devastation within the capitalist economy. In the end, it was none other than Government (i.e. taxpayers) who had to foot the bill for the total irresponsible actions of the so called ‘rational’ self-interested. The reality is that the largest entities in the Free Market are highly dependent on government to subsidize the infrastructure which allows them to function, and while talking a good game about ‘freeing markets’, totally expect to be bailed out when they make mistakes, rather than suffer the consequences they expect from everyone else. In short, The free market teenagers go out and party, knowing that mom and dad will be there to bail them out when they crash the new car. It is a good recipe for enabling further irresponsibility.

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