Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics

Overview

Based on archival research and interviews with leading participants in the movement, Masters of the Universe traces the ascendancy of neoliberalism from the academy of interwar Europe to supremacy under Reagan and Thatcher and in the decades since. Daniel Stedman Jones argues that there was nothing inevitable about the victory of free-market politics. Far from being the story of the simple triumph of right-wing ideas, the neoliberal breakthrough was contingent on the economic crises of the 1970s and the ...

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Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics

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Overview

Based on archival research and interviews with leading participants in the movement, Masters of the Universe traces the ascendancy of neoliberalism from the academy of interwar Europe to supremacy under Reagan and Thatcher and in the decades since. Daniel Stedman Jones argues that there was nothing inevitable about the victory of free-market politics. Far from being the story of the simple triumph of right-wing ideas, the neoliberal breakthrough was contingent on the economic crises of the 1970s and the acceptance of the need for new policies by the political left. This edition includes a new foreword in which the author addresses the relationship between intellectual history and the history of politics and policy.

Fascinating, important, and timely, this is a book for anyone who wants to understand the history behind the Anglo-American love affair with the free market, as well as the origins of the current economic crisis.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a timely history of the Anglo-American love affair with the market and the origins of the current economic crisis."--Keith Richmond, Tribune (U.K.)

"[T]his is an insightful, substantive historical account of the Anglo-American political economy underpinning the conservative economic agendas of the Thatcher and Reagan administrations."--Choice

"Fascinating, important, and timely, this is a book for anyone who wants to understand the history behind the Anglo-American love affair with the free market, as well as the origins of the current economic crisis."--World Book Industry

"The book as a whole . . . offers a balanced, well-structured and highly readable account of neo-liberalism's history which will serve both students and scholars as an introduction to this controversial line of economic thought."--Claudia Franziska Bruhwiler, Political Studies Review

"This is a very important book. . . . [T]he book is essential reading, both to know the history of neo-liberalism and to understand how it impacted on both Labour and Democrat administrations as well as those of the Reaganite and Thatcherite right."--Duncan Bowie, Chartist

"Jones provides a balanced and even-handed account of the ideas and events. He does not shy away from contemporary critiques by leading economists and opponents of Neoliberal ideas."--Braham Dabscheck, Labour History

Publishers Weekly
In impressive fashion, Jones analyzes the impact of free market economics and deregulation on political leaders in Washington, D.C., and London since the 1970s. According to Jones, when New Deal and Keynesian solutions could not reverse 1970s stagflation, “neoliberals” like Milton Friedman stepped in to influence policy, stressing money, interest rates, and inflation, rather than government regulation or spending. To the enduring dismay of the left, this approach seemed to ignite renewed and sustained prosperity. Jones disapproves of neoliberalism as it has hardened into faith since the days of Thatcher and Reagan, and deplores the rise of a political culture in both countries that is “unable to escape a fantasy world in which free markets solved everything.” After soft-pedaling Clinton and Blair as deregulation’s great Third Way champions, he finishes with an unnecessary attack on the American Tea Party and the British Conservatives’ “radical” health and education program. The theme of neoliberalism will confuse readers who consider Hayek and Friedman founders of economic conservatism and whose photographs, along with Thatcher’s and Reagan’s, grace the cover. Still, anyone intrigued by the intersection of economic theory and political affairs will appreciate this learned, detailed book. (Oct.)
Standpoint
Stedman Jones . . . describes the scene with remarkable accuracy, including its financial underpinning and its ties with conservatism.
— Karen Horn
Economist
Mr. Stedman Jones offers a novel and comprehensive history of neoliberalism. It is tarred neither by a reverence for the heroes, nor by caricature, for he is a fair and nuanced writer. This is a bold biography of a great idea.
Wall Street Journal
[I]ntelligent.
— Kenneth Minogue
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
[A] lucid, richly detailed examination of the evolution of the free market ideology since the end of World War II.
— Glenn C. Altschuler
Financial World
[A] good read. . . . The deep history of neo-liberal thought is fascinating.
— Andrew Hilton
Wall Street Journal - Kenneth Minogue
[I]ntelligent.
Australian - Stephen Matchett
[I]mportant. . . . [A] beguilingly erudite old-fashioned read.
Standpoint - Karen Horn
Stedman Jones . . . describes the scene with remarkable accuracy, including its financial underpinning and its ties with conservatism.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Glenn C. Altschuler
[A] lucid, richly detailed examination of the evolution of the free market ideology since the end of World War II.
Financial World - Andrew Hilton
[A] good read. . . . The deep history of neo-liberal thought is fascinating.
Financial Times Wealth - Daniel Ben-Ami
Clearly written and relevant to a wide audience.
American Prospect - Jennifer Burns
Masters of the Universe is a firm brief for the independent, causal power of ideas to shape history. . . . [It] does much to help explain the aftermath of 2008 and the ways in which political responses that might have defined another era seem unthinkable in ours.
Forbes - Alejandro Chafuen
His lengthy exposition of the views shared by these outstanding economists might encourage many to pay attention to their works.
Tribune - Keith Richmond
This is a timely history of the Anglo-American love affair with the market and the origins of the current economic crisis.
Australian
[I]mportant. . . . [A] beguilingly erudite old-fashioned read.
— Stephen Matchett
Kirkus Reviews
A cerebral, pertinent exegesis on the thinking behind the rise of the New Right. Jones offers a comparative examination of how the ideas of the Austrian neoliberals Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, among others, emerged from their experiences of war, depression, Nazi Germany and communist totalitarianism, and how those ideas translated into strong political currency in the administrations of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. The so-called Mont Pelerin Society was formed in 1947 by a group of like-minded intellectuals, united to "combat the forces of collectivism" (fascism, but also the New Deal) as a threat to individual liberty and free markets. Jones sifts carefully through the group's influential Cold War–era books, including Hayek's The Road to Serfdom (1944) and Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945). Jones also traces the transit of the ideas across the Atlantic, with Hayek installed at the University of Chicago, indoctrinating eager students such as Milton Friedman and George Stigler, who further developed neoliberalism in opposition to social spending, activist government and central planning. As the free-market gospel spread, so did conservative think tanks in America--e.g., the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, founded in 1953 by William F. Buckley Jr., who went on to start the National Review. By chance, they were able to implement their ideas when the stagnation crisis hit in the 1970s. President Carter appointed Paul Volcker to the Federal Reserve and deregulation was under way. Jones does not adequately examine the neoliberal debacle of Pinochet's Chile, but he does explore the consequent rise of inequality. Too scholarly for most general readers, but still a valuable study that helps flesh out the caricature of conservatives as only believing "greed is good."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691161013
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/21/2014
  • Edition description: New Foreword
  • Pages: 440
  • Sales rank: 625,204
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Daniel Stedman Jones is a barrister in London. He was educated at the University of Oxford and at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a PhD in history. He has worked as a policy adviser for the New Opportunities Fund and as a researcher for Demos.
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Table of Contents

Preface to the paperback edition ix
Acknowledgments xiii
Timeline xv
List of Abbreviations xvii
Introduction 1
The Three Phases of Neoliberalism 6
Neoliberalism and History 10
Transatlantic Neoliberal Politics 15
1. The Postwar Settlement 21
2. The 1940s: The Emergence of the Neoliberal Critique 30
Karl Popper and "The Open Society" 37
Ludwig von Mises and "Bureaucracy" 49
Friedrich Hayek and "The Road to Serfdom" 57
The Mont Pelerin Society and "The Intellectuals and Socialism" 73
3. The Rising Tide: Neoliberal Ideas in the Postwar Period 85
The Two Chicago Schools: Henry Simons, Milton Friedman, and Neoliberalism 89
The Enlightenment, Adam Smith and Neoliberalism 100
Economic and Political Freedom: Milton Friedman and Cold War Neoliberalism 111
The German Economic Miracle: Neoliberalism and the Soziale Marktwirtschaft 121
Regulatory Capture, Public Choice, and Rational Choice Theory 126
4. A Transatlantic Network: Think Tanks and the Ideological Entrepreneurs 134
The United States in the 1950s: Fusionism and the Cold War 138
British Conservatism in the 1950s 147
Neoliberal Organization in the 1950s and 1960s 152
The Second Wave: Free Market Think Tanks in the 1970s 161
Neoliberal Journalists and Politicians 173
Breakthrough? 178
5. Keynesianism and the Emergence of Monetarism, 1945-71 180
Keynes and Keynesianism 182
"A Little Local Difficulty": Enoch Powell's Monetarism 190
American Economic Policy in the 1960s 197
Milton Friedman's Monetarism 201
The Gathering Storm 212
6. Economic Strategy: The Neoliberal Breakthrough, 1971-84 215
The Slow Collapse of the Postwar Boom, 1964-71 217
Stagflation and Wage and Price Policies 225
The Heath Interregnum and the Neoliberal Alternative 230
The Left Turns to Monetarism, 1: Callaghan, Healey, and the IMF Crisis 241
The Left Turns to Monetarism, 2: Jimmy Carter and Paul Volcker's Federal Reserve 247
Thatcherite Economic Strategy 254
Reaganomics 263
Conclusion 269
7. Neoliberalism Applied? The Transformation of Affordable Housing and Urban Policy in the United States and Britain, 1945-2000 273
Postwar Low-Income Housing and Urban Policy in the United States 278
Postwar Low-Income Housing and Urban Policy in Britain 288
Jimmy Carter and the Limits of Government 295
Property-Owning Democracy and Individual Freedom: Housing and Neoliberal Ideas 297
The Reagan Administration 304
Council House Privatization: The Right to Buy Scheme 308
Transatlantic Transmissions: Reagan's Enterprise Zones 315
Hope VI, Urban Regeneration, and the Third Way 321
Conclusion 325
Conclusion The Legacy of Transatlantic Neoliberalism: Faith-Based Policy 329
Parallelisms: The Place of Transatlantic Neoliberal Politics in History 333
The Apotheosis of Neoliberalism? 338
Reason-Based Policymaking 343
Notes 347
Index 391

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