[Marxism] Fwd: The Neoclassical Club: Irving Fisher and the Progressive Origins of Neoliberalism | Eli Cook - Academia.edu

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Oct 11 05:42:03 MDT 2016

Be it with adulation or criticism, American historians have done 
wonderful work tracing the origins of the New Deal Order and the liberal 
state back to the Pragmatist birth of the Progressive Era
social self. But the New Deal Order has been dead for close to half a 
century now, and there is a second intellectual thread that needs to be 
pulled out of the Progressive Era: one that involves examining not the 
rise of a Metaphysical Club but rather a neoclassical one. This 
Neoclassical Club (Fisher may have led the charge but he was no lone 
wolf) argued not for an associated life in which individuals are shaped 
by the myriad of social forces around them, but rather an atomized, 
ahistorical,understanding of human subjectivity. By portraying man as an 
isolated,fully autonomous, utility-maximizing island in a sea of 
hyper-rational, classless market ex-change, Fisher believed than people 
could be ripped out of their social setting and abstracted (and priced) 
into a mathematical model or cost benefit formula. Like most 
progressives, he rejected laissez-faire and believed in top-down, 
expert-based government reform based on quantitative bureaucratic 
principles. That said, unlike many other progressives, his reform agenda 
was nevertheless predicated on a belief that society was nothing more 
than a series of market transactions. Follow this Progressive Era thread 
of thought through the twentieth century, and it leads not to the New 
Deal,postwar liberalism, or the welfare state but rather the Federal 
Reserve, cost benefit analysis, and the neoliberal pricing of the 
American people babies and all.


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