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Philip Mirowski
Dieter Plehwe
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    What exactly is neoliberalism, and where did it come from? This volume attempts to answer these questions by exploring neoliberalism's origins and growth as a political and economic movement. The Road from Mont Pèlerin presents the key debates and conflicts that occurred among neoliberal scholars and their political and corporate allies regarding trade unions, development economics, antitrust policies, and the influence of philanthropy.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-05426-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-42)

    Neoliberalism is anything but a succinct, clearly defined political philosophy. Both friends and foes have done their share to simplify, if not popularize, neoliberal worldviews. Paradoxically, Margaret Thatcher’s “TINA” (there is no alternative) corresponds with the left-wing critique, which posits that neoliberalism is best understood as an economicpensée unique(a concept popularized by Pierre Bourdieu). Growing self-confidence on the right coincided with an increasingly frustrated (old) left during the upheavals of the 1980s and 1990s, with both sides eventually converging on a perspective of a neoliberal one-dimensional man. In terms of academic disciplines, the neoliberal continues to be stereotypically...

  4. PART ONE Origins of National Traditions

    • 1 French Neoliberalism and Its Divisions: From the Colloque Walter Lippmann to the Fifth Republic
      (pp. 45-67)

      The emergence of neoliberalism as an intellectual network is partly due to a French initiative. Organized by the philosopher Louis Rougier in 1938, the Colloque Walter Lippmann—an international congress held in Paris, consisting of twenty-six businessmen, top civil servants, and economists from several countries—contributed to the rise of this intellectual agenda. It also led to the creation of a nonprofit organization, the Centre international d’études pour la rénovation du libéralisme (CIRL), which attracted members of the ruling elite seeking an answer to “the crisis of capitalism.” Established against advancing notions of the planned economy and collectivism, the CIRL...

    • 2 Liberalism and Neoliberalism in Britain, 1930–1980
      (pp. 68-97)

      Hayek’sRoad to Serfdom(1944) is a work that has assumed a central intellectual and symbolic importance for British neoliberalism. It was written in Britain during the early 1940s while Hayek, then professor of economics at the London School of Economics, was teaching in the school’s wartime home—Cambridge. All of these factors are of importance, positively or negatively; but most readers of the book have misread these polarities. Hayek’s chief line of argument is that the classical liberalism on which the liberty and prosperity of nineteenth-century Britain was built was threatened by statist, German ideas that furthered increasingly deliberate...

    • 3 Neoliberalism in Germany: Revisiting the Ordoliberal Foundations of the Social Market Economy
      (pp. 98-138)

      Germany’s economic model has been frequently described as acoordinatedmarket economy juxtaposed against the Anglo-Saxonliberalmarket economies of the UK and the United States. For many, Germany’s post–World War II “social market economy” in particular constitutes an alternative model to harsher neoliberal systems (Nicholls 1994). A high degree of state interventionism is alleged to be strongly rooted in the history of Germany, which is also frequently held to be deficient in the cultural values of liberal individualism. Indeed, the origins of modern social security systems can be traced back to Bismarck’s efforts in the late nineteenth century...

    • 4 The Rise of the Chicago School of Economics and the Birth of Neoliberalism
      (pp. 139-178)

      Our objective in the present chapter is to relate the sequence of events that led to the rise of the Chicago School of economics. This chapter in many respects is a revisionist story, grounded more directly in archival evidence than in the personal reminiscences that have tended to be the staple of this area in the past. It situates the rise of the school at a very critical juncture of events at a very specific date, namely, 1946. It subverts certain widely held notions about the history of economics, such as the mistaken conflation of the rise of the Chicago...

  5. PART TWO Arguing Out Strategies on Targeted Topics

    • 5 The Neoliberals Confront the Trade Unions
      (pp. 181-203)

      From the mid-1930s through the 1960s, trade-union participation in economic and industrial regulation policies, along with their political importance and membership, increased constantly in the Western world. Whether in the United States, Britain, or Switzerland, unions became a key actor in the pursuit of a concerted national income policy. In West Germany, unions became associated with the economic and political reconstruction of the country; to a lesser extent, the same thing occurred in France, in Belgium or in Italy. Everywhere in Western countries, the wage-bargaining process was recast as a fundamental element in a compromise between employees and employers, even...

    • 6 Reinventing Monopoly and the Role of Corporations: The Roots of Chicago Law and Economics
      (pp. 204-237)

      Once upon a time, classical liberals were wary of monopoly as inherently inimical to democracy because in their view it undermined a necessary condition for democratic politics to flourish, namely, a competitive market. In the 1930s, Henry Simons, a respected University of Chicago professor and self-proclaimed classical liberal, described monopoly in all its forms—including large corporations—as “the great enemy of democracy.”¹ As World War II drew to a close, however, the heirs to liberalism—both in Europe and the United States—worried that they needed to create a more robust liberal doctrine to prevent its demise and to...

    • 7 The Origins of the Neoliberal Economic Development Discourse
      (pp. 238-279)

      When a key group of concerned neoliberal intellectuals associated with Friedrich August von Hayek met in 1947 to start up the Mont Pèlerin Society, the “Third World” was not present on the agenda of the founding conference. A wide range of political economy issues aired at this opening meeting have subsequently been repeated: “politicization of economic life, the nature and working of the market economy, the problems of public finance, monetary instability and the problems of inflation, agricultural policy and agricultural fundamentalism, trade unions and wage policies, capitalist and socialist productivity, and the welfare state and social security.” “The only...

    • 8 Business Conservatives and the Mont Pèlerin Society
      (pp. 280-302)

      Historians of the conservative intellectual movement in the United States have generally depicted the thinkers who rejected liberalism in the 1940s and 1950s as idiosyncratic and iconoclastic figures on the margins of American life. “What seems, in retrospect, most remarkable about the leaders of this movement in these early years was their tenacity in the face of an often hostile environment,” writes historian George H. Nash, in his magisterial 1976 analysis of the rise of conservatism as an intellectual force.¹ This historical judgment largely echoes the beliefs of the participants themselves. Many conservative intellectuals of the early postwar period—a...

  6. PART THREE Mobilization for Action

    • 9 The Influence of Neoliberals in Chile before, during, and after Pinochet
      (pp. 305-346)

      The dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile (1973–1989) has attracted special attention among those seeking to better understand the role of neoliberal ideas in economic and social engineering. But already before Pinochet’s coup d’état, Chile was considered a “laboratory” by Chicago economist Theodore Schultz (Valdés 1995, 126). And Chile served later as a showcase for the alleged merits of neoliberal reform agendas promoted elsewhere.¹ Despite the brutal repression of the opposition under the Pinochet dictatorship, neoliberal economists in fact have been widely praised both inside and outside of Chile for their policy advice against protectionist, socialist, and populist tendencies,...

    • 10 Taking Aim at the New International Economic Order
      (pp. 347-385)

      In the context of the recently proclaimed New International Economic Order, the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations (UNCTC) was established by the UN Economic and Social Council in 1975.¹ This New York–based organ of the UN Secretariat was created to assist the work of another new body, the Commission on Transnational Corporations, which was charged with negotiating a code of conduct for multinational corporations. In less than two decades, the UNCTC was defunct, and the Commission’s effort to adopt and implement a code of conduct had been abandoned. Yet in 1999, just a few years after the Center...

    • 11 How Neoliberalism Makes Its World: The Urban Property Rights Project in Peru
      (pp. 386-416)

      To Friedrich Hayek and his fellow neoliberals, the individualist and nonegalitarian society that neoliberalism envisaged was not a natural condition. They did not expect it to emerge spontaneously once the powers of the state were reduced, as nineteenth-century liberals had believed. The neoliberal order was an economic and social project to be built by capturing and reorganizing political power. In postwar Europe and North America, however, they could not hope to accomplish this project by entering politics directly. Politics, they argued, is governed by the prevailing climate of opinion. The postwar world of ideas was inhospitable to radical individualism. To...

  7. Postface: Defining Neoliberalism
    (pp. 417-456)

    There are plenty of reasons to be wary of Wikipedia in the modern world, not the least of which is that some of the referees for this volume sternly warned me that it would be unseemly and undignified to make extended reference to it in a serious scholarly setting. I would like to begin here by suggesting that a quick bout of websurfing on Wikipedia can teach us numerous deep lessons about the ways in which neoliberalism has come to insinuate itself into much of Western culture since the events recounted in this volume, defining its modern incarnation. Our major...

  8. List of Contributors
    (pp. 457-458)
  9. Index
    (pp. 459-469)