The Thirteen Commandments of Neoliberalism

In the Utopian Philip Mirowski discusses neoliberal thought and takes issue with the increasingly common dismissals of neoliberalism as ‘market fundamentalism’, arguing that such a label entirely misrepresents neoliberal doctrine in a way which ‘dulls serious thought’. Instead he argues that it is a body of ideas which has always been on the move,

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the neoliberal project stood out from other strains of right-wing thought in that it was self-consciously constituted as an entity dedicated to the development, promulgation, and popularization of doctrines intended to mutate over time. It was a moveable feast, and not a catechism fixed at the Council of Trent. It is very important to have some familiarity with neoliberal ideas, if only to resist simple-minded characterizations of the neoliberal approach to the financial crisis as some form of evangelical “market fundamentalism.”

However the recognition of this heterogeneity in neoliberal thought does not entail that it represents ‘gormless empiricism or random pragmatism’. Instead Philip Mirowski argues that there is a logic underlying this flux, one which both shapes and explains neoliberalism’s response to the contemporary financial crisis. He offers his Thirteen Commandments of Neoliberalism as a way of getting an explanatory handle on what this means politically. We’ve reproduced them below but it’s worth reading this fantastic article in full to understand what he means by each of these pithy formulations.

[1] THOU SHALT REVIVE AUTHORITY IN A NEW GUISE

[2] THOU SHALT ERASE DISTINCTIONS

[3] THOU SHALT WORSHIP “SPONTANEOUS ORDER”

[4] THOU SHALT RETASK THE STATE TO THY NEEDS

[5] THOU SHALT REDEFINE DEMOCRACY

[6] THOU SHALT BECOME THE MANAGER OF THYSELF

[7] THOU SHALT REDEFINE FREEDOM AND KNOWLEDGE

[8] THOU SHALT KEEP THY CRONYISM COSMOPOLITAN

[9] THOU SHALT KNOW THAT INEQUALITY IS NATURAL

[10] THOU SHALT NOT BLAME MONOPOLIES AND CORPORATIONS

[11] THOU SHALT TRUST THE BANKERS

[12] THOU SHALT REDFINE CRIME

[13] THOU SHALT ACCOMMODATE THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT


Categories: Rethinking The World

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *