Today, it is often forgotten that the socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s was not only about whether market societies were more economically efficient than planned ones; more crucially, Ludwig von Mises and his disciple Friedrich Hayek depicted economic planning as a threat to the moral and political order of “Western civilization.” A planned economy, these early neoliberals argued, would override the “democracy of consumers” through which individuals registered their own preferences on the market and threaten individual freedom and social peace. This article argues that early neoliberal thinkers mobilized a racialized argument against economic planning, which they depicted as a threat from “the East” and a regression to a “primitive” pre-capitalist, egalitarian morality. Against this neoliberal argument, I retrieve the Austrian philosopher Otto Neurath’s argument that a capitalist market economy is inherently violent and requires the suppression of non-market forms of life.
Calculation and Conflict
Jessica Whyte is a Scientia Fellow (philosophy and law) and associate professor of philosophy at the University of New South Wales. She is the author of The Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism (2019).
Jessica Whyte; Calculation and Conflict. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2020; 119 (1): 31–51. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8007641
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