A fascinating exploration of the role of liberal intellectuals such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek in the rehabilitation of free-market ideology also exposes the crisis of liberalism in the modern era.
Frank Furedi, spiked
The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets Since the Depression, by Angus Burgin, is an important study of the long, protracted battle for the rehabilitation of the principle of the free market. Although its focus is on the postwar contribution of the liberal Mont Pelerin Society to the revitalisation of the market principle, it does something else, too: it provides crucial insights into the crisis of liberalism in the modern era.
Burgin writes a story that explains why the collapse of cultural affirmation for laissez-faire capitalism in the 1930s did not lead to its terminal decline. His study begins in the late Thirties, when it was widely presumed that the free market would never recover its nineteenth-century reputation and status, and it ends with the triumphant return of the free market in the 1980s. In this regard, John Maynard Keynes was rather premature when he announced the death of the free market in the 1920s. By the 1980s, it was Keynesianism rather than free-market economics which, in Keynes’ own words, ‘had come to be seen as a relic of a rapidly receding economic world’. As Burgin writes: ‘By the 1980s, debates in the Anglo-American public sphere were permeated with the assumption that the workings of the free market should be protected from governmental attempts to intervene.’
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The struggle to moralise capitalism (1)