Friday, 6 December 2019

Violence in Classical Liberalism versus Neoliberalism: Punishment, Threats, and Structural Violence

Lecture by S.M. Amadae, University of Helsinki

This lecture responds to two puzzles. The first is why it is not more widely accepted that the neoliberal era can be effectively understood to be a marriage between an Ordoliberal celebration of free markets and the late twentieth-century rational choice revolution in the social sciences. The second is why neoliberalism continues to be confused with classical liberalism, despite the fact that the latter is a normative system of rights, while the former jettisons moral normativity in favor of hypothetical descriptivism. The conflation of classical and neoliberal forms of capitalism, one at least acknowledging the no-harm principle, the other dispensing with it, is evident in the ongoing neoliberalization of public policies in the Nordic countries, even a decade after the Great Recession.

Amadae considers the political theories of John Rawls and Robert Nozick against the backdrop of post-1980s rational choice policy-making in the form of punishment as deterrence (and not reform), or threats (instead of commitment and promising) as constitutive features of Neoliberalism.

S.M. Amadae is working on the book project “Neoliberal Seeds of Illiberalism: Nordic Alternatives. This research seeks to understand the recent global transition to illiberal hybrid autocratic forms of government and to identify practical interventions consistent with values of participatory governance, a free press, and inclusive economic prosperity.

Amadae is currently a university lecturer and acting professor in politics at the University of Helsinki, Finland; and research affiliate in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.

Comment: PD Dr. Rüdiger Graf, Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam

The Lecture is part of the WZB lecture series Great Crisis of Capitalism – A Second Great Transformation?