Neoliberalism and its discontents

Released Thursday, 24th October 2019
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“Neoliberalism” is one of the most confusing phrases in political discourse today. The term is often used to describe the market fundamentalism of thinkers like Milton Friedman and Frederich Hayek or politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. At the same time, critics often place more progressive figures like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and even Elizabeth Warren under the neoliberal banner. This raises an important question: what the hell is neoliberalism?
I decided to bring on two guests today to help us answer that question. Wendy Brown is a professor of political theory at UC Berkeley, author of Undoing the Demos and In the Ruins of Neoliberalism, and one of the foremost critics of neoliberalism, not only as a set of economic policies but a “governing rationality” that infects almost all aspects of our existence. Noah Smith is an economist, a columnist at Bloomberg, and is known for his robust defenses of some (though not all) neoliberal positions, which earned him the prestigious title of Chief Neoliberal Shill of 2018. We discuss:
- The differences between neoliberal theory and “actually existing neoliberalism”
- Neoliberalism as not only a set of economic policies but a form of “public reason” that influences our very conception of what it means to be human
- How neoliberal thought came to dominate almost every aspect of our lives
- Whether neoliberalism is an inherently anti-democratic project
- The relationship between neoliberal economic policies and traditional morality
- The differences between New Deal liberalism and Obama-era neoliberalism
- Whether a growth-driven economic model is compatible with our planet's ecological limits

Book recommendations:
How Asia Works by Joe Studwell
Law Without Future by Jack Jackson
Democracy in Chains by Nancy McLean

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Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld
Researcher - Roge Karma
Engineer - Topher Routh

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1h 34m 32s

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