Since its intellectual inception in the 1930s and its political emergence in the 1970s, neo-liberalism has sought to disenchant politics by replacing it with economics. This agenda-setting text examines the efforts and failures of economic experts to make government and public life amenable to measurement, and to re-model society and state in terms of competition. In particular, it explores the practical use of economic techniques and conventions by policy-makers, politicians, regulators and judges and how these practices are being adapted to the perceived failings of the neoliberal model. By picking apart the defining contradiction that arises from the conflation of economics and politics, this book asks: to what extent can economics provide government legitimacy? Now with a new preface from the author and a foreword by Aditya Chakrabortty.

The Disenchantment of Politics : Neoliberalism, sovereignty and economics

The Disenchantment of Politics: Neoliberalism, sovereignty and economics

Friedrich Von Hayek believed that the intellectual, political and organizational forces of liberalism began a downward trajectory around 1870 (Hayek, 1944: 21). In place of the decentralized structure of the Victorian marketplace and British classical economics, came trends towards bureaucratization, management and the protection of the ‘social’ realm, all accompanied by a growing authority for German institutionalist and historicist ideas. By the 1940s this had reached the point of emergency. Having witnessed a financial crisis usher in Fascism, Keynesianism and then a world war, Hayek viewed the choices of political modernity in starkly binary terms:

We have in effect undertaken to dispense with the forces which produced unforeseen ...

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