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Humanism Challenges Materialism in Economics and Economic History$
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Roderick Floud, Santhi Hejeebu, and David Mitch

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226429588

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226429618.001.0001

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Liberal Advocacy and Neoliberal Rule: On McCloskey’s Ambivalence

Liberal Advocacy and Neoliberal Rule: On McCloskey’s Ambivalence

(p.153) 6 Liberal Advocacy and Neoliberal Rule: On McCloskey’s Ambivalence
Humanism Challenges Materialism in Economics and Economic History

Stephen G. Engelmann

University of Chicago Press

In the twentieth century and beyond, market libertarians have consistently identified themselves with classical liberalism while contributing to the formation and justification of neoliberalism. They have done this, primarily, through the disenchantment of politics by economics; politics is denigrated and drained of power by an economics ready to step into its place. Classical liberalism enjoyed a republican foundation; it ennobled the market and secured it as one institution among many, whereas neoliberalism elevates the market idea to install it as a principle of government. Deirdre McCloskey's eloquent and nuanced defenses of the bourgeois era betray a concern about disenchantment. But their focus on moral disenchantment sidesteps what is essentially a political problem. McCloskey raises fundamental moral and scientific questions about neoliberal order, but her evasion of politics combined with her market advocacy tend to reinforce the phenomenon of economic rule.

Keywords:   Deirdre McCloskey, neoliberalism, political theory, Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity, Bourgeois Equality, rhetoric of economics, disenchantment, demoralisation, institutions

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