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Neoliberalism has become an all-purpose insult, but what does it actually mean? In the final episode of Series 1, Dorian and Ian tell the extraordinary story of how a friendless group of outsider economists started a decades-long campaign to turn their fringe ideas into mainstream orthodoxy – and succeeded.
Neoliberalism: A Reading List
Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiment by Adam Smith. Both of these can be read in their own right, they're not as tough-going as you think
History of Economic Thought by Lionel Robbins. One of the greatest economics books ever written. Or spoken rather, given that they're basically transcripts of Robbins’ lectures at the LSE. Masterful.
The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek. Quite completely insane. Rather fun.
Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crisis Changed the World by Adam Tooze. Arguably the best single account of the financial crash. Can be tough going, but it’s worth it.
Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics by Daniel Stedman Jones. It gets a little dry towards the end but it’s still a valuable attempt to ground an intellectual history of a movement in the combative personalities of the people who created it.
A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey. Does what it says on the tin from a left-wing perspective. He’s not a fan.
The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. Her thesis might be overstated but Klein shows how the economists of the Chicago School teamed up with authoritarian leaders such as Pinochet to turn entire countries into experimental laboratories for neoliberalism.
A reading list and whistle-stop history from the academic and author of The Limits of Neoliberalism, William Davies.
- “What you see here is the fetishisation of economics above all other concerns. An anatomised view of humanity as economic agents and very little else.” – Ian
- “One of the big problems with the term neoliberalism is that it gets applied equally to Barack Obama and General Pinochet.” – Dorian
- “Friedman didn’t even believe in certificates for doctors. He thought the market would protect everyone. So this guy chopped up your auntie? That’s OK, the market realises he should no longer practice…” – Ian
- “These guys embarked on a 20 year process of legitimising these ideas. They trained people so that when things start to go wrong in the late 60s, they were ready.” – Dorian
- “Sometimes Hayek sounds like he’s having a religious experience. The market is unknowable. It’s almost like it really is the hand of God.” – Ian
Written and presented by Dorian Lynskey and Ian Dunt. Audio production and music by Jade Bailey. Logo art by Mischa Welsh. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Origin Story is a Podmasters production
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