The Neoliberal Vision: The Great Escape Artist

“As for living, our servants will do that for us.”

– Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Axël

In the posthuman context one wants to rephrase that to say: “As for dying, our proxies will do that for us.” In the age of neoliberal fragmentation the self is no longer confined to some unified sphere of consistency that can be tracked, identified, and commoditized according to external market pressure, but is as Deleuze once described it a ‘dividual’, a datatized agent of the simulated virtual economy.  The neoliberal self is dispersed in the free-floating bits of flotsam and jetsam of that vast assemblage of phantasmatic networks to be exploited by machinic algorithms in a posthuman economy of the endless transactions and brokered financialization. Self as Proxy, a self-constructed kit of affective relations built not by some internal mechanism but by the neoliberal market forces and their minions in the Grand Cathedral of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (so well documented by Philip Mirowski). In today’s neoliberal hypercaptalist state the self is immersed in the flows of data, unhinged from its physical status within the water bag we call the body, it is seen as a flexible and liquid commodity, neither manufactured or fabricated, but more of a neurogram: a programmable commodity of accelerating human capital moving toward greater and greater energy flows within the digital marketplace guided by neither rational choice nor the neoclassical sense of self identity but as performative player in a vast game script structured by a mathematical information economy modulated second by second in a global system run amok on the shores of a desperate elite that no longer believes in its own mystical religion of money.

Why worry about job loss in such a world? Think of it as an opportunity for a major overhaul, an upgrade, a self-modified algorithm one can install as part of an everyday  maintenance program. Designer drugs to modify not one’s brain but one’s desensitized body laid on ice awaiting the expected post-singularity when humans and machines merge in immortalist visions of economic heaven. We are told over and over that the self is illusion, that the brain’s plasticity allows for multiple roles to be cast in flexible functions and mechanisms, just another graft of the fractured rhythms of accelerating world.  Accountability? The legal definitions are evolving too, at least that’s the latest bit of wisdom from the neoliberal ignorance. Slowly but surely the neoliberal self is dissolving into the very fabric of the market where rules are just another set of algorithms pumping the fluid of wealth from the poor to the rich. As Philip Mirowski describes it satirically:

This is the true terminus of the neoliberal self: to supplant your own mother and father; to shrug off the surly bond ratings of earth; to transform yourself at the drop of a hat or the swallow of a pill; to be beholden to no other body but only to the incorporeal market. It doesn’t matter if the procedure actually lies within the bounds of contemporary scientific possibility, because it is the apocalypse and the Rapture of the neoliberal scriptures.1

All of the above may seem like a mad satire of the our present world, even the peregrinations of a mind at the end of its tether. Yet, living in America as I do I feel like a one of those old gnostics that has suddenly awakened from his sleepwalking existence, his zombiefied dream state within the ideological mindmeld of the mediatainment scapeworlds that pervade us. But this is no religious vision, nor is it some battle between gods of Left and Right like some all encompassing dualism of those old preachers of the desert. Instead this is the truth of which George Orwell once stated:

The Party could not be overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any enemies, had no way of coming together or even of identifying one another. Even if the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just possibly it might, it was inconceivable that its members could ever assemble in larger numbers than twos and threes. Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflection of the voice; at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning.2

Everywhere one turns we hear over and over how we are powerless against the incomprehensible market, as if the market had become our god, the invisible hand that guides our lives like chess pieces on some world board that no nation, corporation, or economist can either know nor control. We want to say with Orwell that we too could wake up together and throw off the chains of servitude to this world system if we only would. No instead we are put to sleep by the very enemies we so hate. Why? Philip Mirowski speaking of the 2007 Crisis of the economy and its aftermath tells us, speaking to the mechanics of the Fed and its minions satirizes their crying and helpless stance in ignorance and apathy:

First off, you can’t blame us just because the neoclassical orthodoxy we actively help enforce is pathetically empty in its ability to discriminate such matters. Moreover, we assert those who were adamant in sounding the alarm were cranky Cassandras and perennial moaners, which means mostly pariahs exiled outside the orthodoxy, so we, the Fed, were fully justified in ignoring them. When in doubt, always err on the side of Pollyanna optimism. Finally, the supposed consensus enforced at the Fed was clearly not based on any demonstrable intellectual discernment, so much as herding behavior and the chairman’s visible iron hand, but not to worry, because it is eminently “rational” to stick with the herd. People whine about the parade of economists being unable to come to a conclusion, but soothing their anxieties concerning dissention and disputation is the main reason we were right to persist in our stubborn errors. We simply channel the cultural zeitgeist.(Mirowski, 3870-3876)

Cronyism and protectionism have been with us from the beginning of this nation, and one might extend this to all supposed nations under the neoliberal thumb. What seems clear is that most of the economists that purport to give us the truth of this event are in the pay of the very ones that caused it. Pleading ignorance is the first line of defense for these creatures. The failure of economics forecasting is the failure of economists who not only lack any understanding of the facts, but who are actually paid to distort the facts and put the blame not on the very financial institutions that caused the issue but to propagandize the citizenry into believing that knew all along just how the crisis came about and how to fix it. The Great Bailout in which the institutions that failed regained ascendency through an influx of trillions. Yes, this is better than the great train robbery. And, as Mirowski reminds us the blame was finally laid not on Wall Street, the Fed, or the Bankster-Industrial complex but on us the People. Yes, we are to blame they reiterate over and over and we must pay.

Mirowski spends a full chapter in his new book outlining how naturalized the neoliberal economic world view has become over the years. He shows a litany of both Nobel Prize economists and their epigone who are all aligned in a coterie or cartel of intellectual survivorship that lives in denial of the truth, and in fact espouses a new economic mythology or social constructivism to support their continued intellectual control of the academic, governmental, and corporate/financial institutions. With the help of the neoliberal press and media the crisis of 2007 and the glut of books, journal reports, etc. lay the blame everywhere but at the door of the neoliberal economists themselves.

Mirowski asks a simple question: How did these neoliberal economists dodge the bullet? Why are they even more entrenched in the places of power within both the government and private enterprise systems that they were before? For all the calls for reform of the very institutions whose deregulation caused much of the latest issues we discover that instead of reform we are getting guffaws and prognostications that it was not the institutions that failed us but we who failed the institutions: and we must pay and pay dearly with austerity and endless taxation for years to come.

The truth is that the neoliberal consensus has become the Orthodoxy of our Era, a new vast Cathedral with the economist as High Priest preaching the gospel of prosperity for all and happiness to those who deserve it. These grey men of renown hide everywhere in plain site guiding, cajoling, interpreting, complexifying, mythologizing the raptures of our ignorance. The old theme of the Market as to great for any one individual to master, that like the invisible hand of god we must allow the market to work itself out without intervention. As Mirowski aptly remarks: “Economists, it appears, have unexpectedly displaced the clergy as the untouchable Delphic oracles in modern society” (Mirowski, 4022-4023). Mirowski describes four basic techniques and ploys that have helped these neoliberal autocrats to remain fixed in their power pulpits across the world. There is the immunity granted by the Financial Sector and the Fed; the immunity conveyed by the Neoliberal Restructuring of Universities; the propaganda that Neoclassical Economic Theory Denies That Academic Markets Can Ever Be Corrupt; and, finally, the notion that a “double truth” is the neoliberal economists best friend (i.e., there is the truth for the public at large, and another truth for the oligarchic elite insiders). As Mirowski remarks this it the theme that the crisis has revealed a severe epistemological contradiction that festers at the heart of the modern economics profession; this has dovetailed with a new set of practices and institutions that have developed since 1980 to paper over the contradiction.(Mirowski, 4429-4431). And, yet, the neoliberal economist self-image may be breaking down: “it sets up a treacherous dynamic interplay between the economics profession and the general public, awkwardly brought closer to the surface by the crisis. In a word, neoliberal theory in the context of economic crisis creates problems for economists’ self-image as public intellectuals.” (Mirowski, 4432-4434)

But what is the key to their continuing success? Ignorance? Yes. The economists and their institutions sponsor a message of pure ignorance with relativistic glee in the face of public anger. This is what Mirowski terms the postmodern imperative of the neoliberal machine; its agnotology (i.e., It is not the study of ignorance and doubt under all their manifestations, as sometimes mistakenly asserted, but rather the focused study of the intentional manufacture of doubt and uncertainty in the general populace for specific political motives.). In the neoliberal playbook, intellectuals are inherently shady characters precisely because they sell their pens-for-hire to private interests: that is their inescapable lot in life as participants in the marketplace of ideas. It is the market as superior information processor that ultimately sorts out what the masses should deem as truth, at least in the fullness of time.(Mirowski, 4435-4437). As he remarks:

…orthodox economists tend to waver between two incompatible positions, depending upon which appears more convenient for the entity that provides their institutional identity (as explored in this chapter); but the only way they can manage to accomplish this is by fostering greater ignorance among the public , their primary audience. Indeed, the think tanks and corporations that employ economists frequently explicitly seek to foster ignorance as part of their business plans: that is the postmodern phenomenon of agnotology. Economists, witting or no, have become the vanguard of the purveyors of ignorance in matters pecuniary, precisely because they cannot face up to their own epistemic dilemma. The crisis only highlights the divergence between “Trust us” and “Trust the neoliberal market.” (Mirowski, 4458-4464)

One could retrace the full gamut of propaganda from Bernays to Chomsky and how it blinds the public through media blitz and other mythical mindmelds to control public opinion. Disinformation can sometimes be more potent than the truth, but in this case for every book published that might actually shed light on the truth there are a hundred others to refute it, along with journals, newspapers, talking heads, etc. So the public at large sifting through all the mess of information glut is offered the devil’s bargaining chip of “Trust Us” from the in-power media critics to trust them with the truth. Mirowski points out economist after economist that speak the truth go unreflectively unnoticed in mainstream media and get little or not hearing in mainstream economy journals of repute. One need not go far to see the truth of this, one could return to the father of neoliberal thought, Friedrich Hayek in the Constitution of Liberty: “There is not much reason to believe that, if at any one time the best knowledge which some possess were made available to all, the result would be a much better society. Knowledge and ignorance are relative concepts”. This relativization of knowledge and ignorance is at the heart of the postmodern neoliberal vision. The production and proliferation of excessive information is one of the key ways the neoliberal world stays in power. Another way for it to enforce its Rule of Ignorance that the Market as information processing system is to great for any one individual to control or know. Only the High Priests of the new Cathedral of the Neoliberal Religion can hope to provide us with oracular messages from its dark pools of machininc nightmares. And, this is the neoliberal escape hatch and why it continues to survive amid so much scrutiny on the Left, because the target is hidden behind a glut of information and ignorance carefully crafted by the Neoliberal Thought Collective Mirowski so carefully registers.

But for all that one wonders: Who is listening? Have we all become dupes in a neoliberal theatre of cruelty? Who will pierce the veil of maya that has blinded the public at large in a world of illusions? Every move the Left makes is coopted by the NTC (Neoliberal Thought Collective) and turned to its own purposes. Without access to the mediscape the Left is powerless to change public opinion. We see this in many of the recent failures of the Occupy movements. Mainly derided in the mass media or for the most part ignored we see nothing really changes in the public at large who blissfully unaware or even asleep drift to the somnambulant beat of the neoliberal snake charms. Even now I get the feeling no one is listening. Even those who read my blog very rarely use their voice to communicate. Most blithely glance through the information and turn away to something else without it registering. More and more I’ seeing that blogging is more of a note taking occupation that makes little difference in the truth of things. I become more pessimistic day by day that all this blogging, academic lecturing, etc. is going nowhere. That nothing is going to change, but that what is peering over the horizon is a darker world of control growing more pervasive not because we are ignorant, but because we do not act on what little knowledge we do have. There is no solidarity, to connection, no communication. There is just this noise of endless chatter to no effect….

Why? Why do we seem alone in this dark age of neoliberalism? Where is the greatness of the Left today? Is there anything more than an eclipse? Everywhere you turn there is in-fighting, back biting, conniving, blamers rather than the energy to shape and change the state of affairs as Marx once espoused. Where is our hope?

1. Mirowski, Philip (2013-07-09). Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Kindle Locations 3081-3084). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.
2. George Orwell. Nineteen Eighty-Four (Kindle Locations 819-823). Kindle Edition.

15 thoughts on “The Neoliberal Vision: The Great Escape Artist

  1. yep, I don’t see what the means would be to get people organized in great enough numbers (or well enough resourced), for sustained periods of time, and with common purposes and mutually enhancing techniques.

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  2. Social criticism is sports journalism, always opining about yesterday’s game. There’s too much filtration at this level of discourse – and the Left has pretty much destroyed whatever credibility intellectualism possessed. I find the kinds of critiques Mirowski gives to be too easy, all these grand networks of unopposed malefactors. The American intelligensia abandoned the cultural commons to their foes, self-identified against the masses (proles) even as the ivory of their towers transformed into glass… which is to say that technology is the big driver here, and the revolution hasn’t even started. Think of IBM’s Watson who won Jeopardy what? 4 or 5 years back? when it was the size of a living room.

    It’s the size of 3 pizza boxes right now.

    How does anyone generalize over a system retooling itself so quickly? Mirowski’s diagnosis was obsolete before he even began. Nobody knows what the fuck is going on; everybody is just scrambling to get their own while they can, throwing out words like octopi ejaculating ink.

    Here’s a link you should post on, Craig: http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

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    • What? Sometimes I wonder if you even actually read my posts all the way or if you skim through them like a sink valve? The post is about how the neoliberals started with that exact notion in Friedrich Hayek (along with previous posts) in which the basic them is how the neoliberals have developed a sophisticated position with regard to knowledge and ignorance; getting a grip on how they manage to deploy ignorance as a political tool will go some distance in dispelling the onus of having been transparently duped. His book basically covers three such contradictions in neoliberalism, which are arguably central to an understanding of the crisis: (1) that a society dedicated to liberal ideals had to resort to illiberal procedures and practices; (2) that a society that held spontaneous order as the ne plus ultra of human civilization had to submit to heavy regimentation and control; and (3) that a society dedicated to rational discourse about a market conceived as a superior information processor ended up praising and promoting ignorance. These, I trust, are stances so incongruous, such howling lapses of intellectual decorum, that one cannot imagine that the protagonists themselves did not take note of them.

      Have you even read Machine Dreams: Economics becomes a Cyborg Science? Have you actually read Mirowski? I of course bring in snippets but he gives the meat in his books to support his arguments. Obviously this latest book is more superficial than his previous works, but for a different audience as well. He understands very well how the information processing technological innovations of the past two centuries have effected a whole gamut of social and political endeavors, as well as an understanding of the differing aspects of the sciences involved.

      Even your statement shows you to be hoodwinked into the same trap that the neoliberal machine has laid out for you to believe: “Mirowski’s diagnosis was obsolete before he even began. Nobody knows what the fuck is going on; everybody is just scrambling to get their own while they can, throwing out words like octopi ejaculating ink.” This statement shows me that you have never read Mirowski much less understood his diagnosis.

      I’ll read this work if I can gain access.

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      • My bad. I should have appended ‘your reading of…’

        It strikes me as a fascinating academic tactic, though, assigning an ideological geneology to skepticism, then charging skeptics of this geneology with being ideological dupes. But I fear it’s not very convincing. The inability of humans to do much more than throw words at supercomplicated systems is not a fantasy concocted by neoliberal conspirators, it’s an empirical fact. It was just as much the case before the rise of neoliberalism as it is now.

        Do institutions/individuals regularly game ignorance?–of course, but again, this is nothing new. We’re pretty clearly hardwired for it. The problem lies in our contemporary LACK of ignorance regarding human ignorance, not the postulation of mythical ignorance. We’re getting better and better at gaming it.

        Do markets process information in ways that individual humans cannot. It seems pretty hard to believe that they don’t. The market is pretty clearly some kind of selection machine, endowing certain things with resources, and starving others. And this seems to have a lot to do with their efficiency. I’m not sure how the ideological exploitation of this fact makes it any less factual. If Mirowski is arguing for a radically different conception of what markets are and how they work, then this is what I would like to see, because this is what would make his analysis remarkable. I have family in Venezuela who have front row seats to the market-managerial skills of the Chavistas.

        Otherwise, it smacks of run-of-the-mill guilt-by-association. These guys are bad. These guys all believe A. Therefore A is bad.

        Life would be so much easier if the bad guys lived in a fantasy world. But then, like terrorists and other bogeymen from the lunatic fringe, we really wouldn’t have any reason to fear them that much. It’s the bad guys living in the real world that you need fear. The one’s that know what they’re talking about.

        Neoliberals live in the real world. It was Chile that made Friedman so influential, was it not?

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      • First, you say: “But I fear it’s not very convincing. The inability of humans to do much more than throw words at supercomplicated systems is not a fantasy concocted by neoliberal conspirators, it’s an empirical fact.”

        Reading this short post I can see how you would say this. In More Heat than Light, Mirowski reveals a history of how physics has drawn inspiration from economics and how economics has sought to emulate physics, especially with regard to the theory of value. He traces the development of the energy concept in Western physics and its subsequent effect on the invention and promulgation of neoclassical economics, the modern orthodox theory.

        In Machine Dreams Mirowski explores the historical influences of the military and the cyborg sciences on neoclassical economics. The neglected influence of John von Neumann and his theory of automata are key themes throughout the book. Mirowski claims that many of the developments in neoclassical economics in the 20th century, from game theory to computational economics, are the unacknowledged result of von Neumann’s plans for economics. The role of economics is to explore how various market types perform in measures of complexity and efficiency, with more complicated markets being able to incorporate the effects of the less complex. By complexity Mirowski means something analogous to Computational complexity theory in computer science. He goes in to all the major players from Charles Babbage to Shannon to many of the latest descendents such as Dhananjay K. Gode and Shyam Sunder in “Allocative Efficiency of Markets with Zero-Intelligence Traders: Market as a PartialSubstitute for Individual Rationality” (see http://www.studymode.com/essays/Article-Review-Dhananjay-k-Gode-And-559716.html).

        In Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste , Mirowski concludes that neoliberal thought has become so pervasive that any countervailing evidence serves only to further convince disciples of its ultimate truth. Once neoliberalism became a Theory of Everything, providing a revolutionary account of self, knowledge, information, markets, and government, it could no longer be falsified by anything as trifling as data from the “real” economy. Yet, the main point of the book was an in depth critique of current economists on both the Left and Right, not some blind acceptance of either side of the coin. As he tells it:

        “In that spirit, we might divide the reactions of the economics profession to the crisis into three broad categories: one, the orthodoxy was right all along and nothing that has transpired in recent events impugns the fundamental soundness of basic theory; two, the orthodox have made some unfortunate conceptual choices in the recent past, but the crisis has sobered us up, and we are working hard to rectify them, while maintaining fealty to all that was legitimate, timeless and dependable in neoclassical economics; and three , the best response would be to renounce neoclassical economics altogether, and start anew with some other tradition of economic thought. The first response was primarily dealt with in chapter 4. The second response is more difficult to characterize through any brief summary, and is the topic of the present chapter. The third response is the project of which this volume serves as preamble: it derives from a conclusion that renunciation of neoclassical economics is the only serious way forward to oppose the zombie fortification of modern neoliberalism. Precisely because the third option is such a disparaged minority position, we first have more work to do to improve its appeal. … To prepare the ground, we shall have to deal with the contemporary majority view that opposition to neoliberalism does not require throwing out baby with bathwater; that there is every reasonable expectation that neoclassical macroeconomics can be “fixed,” and continuity with the current orthodox economics profession can be maintained. This is the conviction of many figures on the left, as currently constituted: it is the opinion of John Quiggin (sketched in chapter 1), as well as Joseph Stiglitz, Simon Johnson, Paul Krugman, and, perhaps more incongruously, the bulk of the participants in attendance at INET. This opinion should be expected to have been grounded in very detailed aspects of current economic theory, as one would anticipate from such illustrious adherents, and has assumed multiple formats.”

        His point is that the Left is wrong, the neoclassical economics is a dead fish and cannot be fixed because it is wrongheaded about current state of affairs of which your pointing out the obvious of technological shift and innovation are only one part. In my next post I will detail out how the Left neoclassicists got it wrong. Then I’ll mark a post out detailing where he offers a vision forward for a new economics beyond either Neoclassical or Neoliberal.

        Your satirizing of his work without having read it still seems dubious at best. He is not a Leftist in the sense of Chavistas. Dang that is a simplification and is a little offensive to me. You spout almost complete ignorance of current economic theory and lambast with obviously rogue government crapology. I’ve tried to understand your work honestly, but you seem to attack like a mad dog for no reason works that you have not bothered to investigate. Strange. Then you accuse me of attacking you when I point this fact out.

        Mirowski, Philip (2013-07-09). Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Kindle Locations 4699-4713). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.

        The above is the short view. His next work as he states:

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      • Fascinating interview. His Foucauldian roots actually give me a good way to express my criticism. ‘Epistemes’ you need to remember, are explanatory posits, cartoons that hopefully engage the complexity of what’s going on. Cartoon-mongering is how I see what I’m doing now, in fact. There’s the complexity of system, and there’s these simplistic tokens we use to engage that complexity. People involved in rationalizing political agendas generally hate this kind of characterization because it seems – it is – far to tepid to mobilize political action. But as ugly as this fact might be (it gives me fits), it’s hard not to see how epistemes can be ‘real’ in any substantive sense. They are about as congenitally underdetermined as any theoretical posit could be.

        So the question is: How did the ‘American Business Model’ come to dominate the world? Is it purely an ideological artifact, an episteme (cartoon) that conquered competitors for noneconomic reasons, or is it the case that the rapid economic growth America witnessed in the 90’s drew the envy of market democracies the world over? Is it the case that in certain social contexts, the liberalization of markets *really does* increase the efficiency of those markets? If so, then the dominance of neoliberalism has likely more in common with explosion of vampire movies in Hollywood than any ideological conspiracy.

        Like I say, that’s the argument I’m interested in hearing. Liberalization seems to be clearly correlated with efficiency (which I don’t take as an essential ‘good’). If the selectionist processing metaphor (cartoon) does not engage what markets do, then what cartoon does?

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      • Yes, exactly. One of his critiques of Foucault is just that: the episteme is a reduction machine, not a substantive argument. He goes into detail in several instances to underscore that fact, as well as showing that his use of many of these devices is heuristic rather than some literal investment in the terms as capturing the truth of an era or knowledge base. In fact he questions a whole gamut of Foucauldians that have followed their master like a religious script. He uses a great deal of the latter lectures to his own ends as heuristic models.

        As you suggest: “There’s the complexity of system, and there’s these simplistic tokens we use to engage that complexity.” That’s one of the main points of his book Machine Dreams: Economics becomes a Cyborg Science. He returns time and again to the point that we all tend to reduce the complexities of history and contingency to cartoons, but that’s why we need to dig deeper into and elaborate, clarify, and extrapolate narratives not as if they spoke of some deep truth, but as heuristic devices that open up more on our current predicaments. In Machine Dreams he really pits two divergent trends within the cybernetic revolution: the path toward simulacra, and the other toward automata. He goes in depth to show how the views of Herbert Simon (simulacra) and John von Neumann (automata) developed two paths forward in computer sciences and in turn the economics of that past 50 years. He argues for the von Neumann path and its current innovators mentioned previously in Dhananjay K. Gode and Shyam Sunder and others.

        You ask:

        “How did the ‘American Business Model’ come to dominate the world? Is it purely an ideological artifact, an episteme (cartoon) that conquered competitors for noneconomic reasons, or is it the case that the rapid economic growth America witnessed in the 90′s drew the envy of market democracies the world over? Is it the case that in certain social contexts, the liberalization of markets *really does* increase the efficiency of those markets? If so, then the dominance of neoliberalism has likely more in common with explosion of vampire movies in Hollywood than any ideological conspiracy.”

        Mirowski covers the rise of neoliberalism not as conspiracy theory but as a very well funded and concrete initiative of what he terms the Neoliberal Though Collective in The Road from Mont Pelerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. A part of this global system as marked out by its largest foundation an subsidiaries is Atlas Economic Research Foundation’s Global Network documented on a google map by my friend Edmund Berger: http://deterritorialinvestigations.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/mapping-the-neoliberal-empire/

        The reason I point the above out is to show how well funded and powerful this regime is. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Edmund in many posts has documented aspects of this from other angles and is worth reading as well.

        Obviously for me to answer that would be to reduce all of Mirowski’s and a multitude of other books in a Nutshell series of posts. An undertaking that Edmund Berger and I hope to work through in the current book that we are in collaboration in writing. So stay tuned. My current posts are going to bring in the gamut of information of current theories including your pet notions on the brain and neurosciences, posthumanism, economics… etc. A narrative that is not linear but more in the tradition of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus that will shift between layers or plateaus revealing aspects of technology and culture over the past couple centuries.

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  3. “Nobody knows what the fuck is going on”
    not only don’t we know but given the complexities of the systems (economic, environmental, etc) that we have set in motion with our multitudinous engineering projects no one can know, no one can get a handle/grip on such matters and no one has the authority to slow/control them in ways which are wide and deep enough to make a difference that makes a difference that I can see.

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    • and just to add to that most people feel (that fateful feeling-state-of-certainty) that they can and do understand such complex/hyper phenomena and even can fix/manage them so we can’t even arrange to have a public/political conversation about out how out of control things are.

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    • I can sympathize. After years of reading economics it does seem more and more a blind man’s bluff game, yet there is method in the madness and do think Mirowski has important things to say and that we need to hear even if his is only one partial voice in this messy business.

      If anything else his work helps you define the history of economics, its major players, and their roles in its current dilemmas.

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  4. “Your satirizing of his work without having read it still seems dubious at best. He is not a Leftist in the sense of Chavistas. Dang that is a simplification and is a little offensive to me. You spout almost complete ignorance of current economic theory and lambast with obviously rogue government crapology. I’ve tried to understand your work honestly, but you seem to attack like a mad dog for no reason works that you have not bothered to investigate. Strange. Then you accuse me of attacking you when I point this fact out.”

    My tone was meant to be commiserative! Otherwise, I didn’t feel like I was satirizing or mad-dogging or accusing so much as stating a principled reason to be skeptical of projects like this in general. But then, I am in a pissy mood today… for reasons I’ll likely never understand! And economics is something I only read occasionally. I’m a big Kay and Krugman fan, and I tend to think that heuristic experimentation, contextual sensitivity, and versatility are the only ways to proceed when it comes to economics, and conversely, that doctrine is folly. As much as I dislike the Chicago School (I live in a country run by a graduate of one of its satellite schools) market-as-oracle approach, I just think the question of whether they are right or wrong is one that only policy implementation can decide. And I think a lot of valuable lessons have been learned, both ways.

    My skeptical point still stands, however. And I think my question regarding how we should regard the basic structure and dynamics of the market is a good one.

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    • Interesting Kay and Krugman are typical neoclassicalists, and obvious the Chicago School is pure neoliberal front for the notion of the Market is to great for any one person to grasp: the market-as-oracle…

      In this book I’ve been writing posts on currently he gives in depth critiques of both of these. I haven’t posted his critiques of Krugman and Steiglitz, Quiggam as of yet, nor have I even started to post on his future positive replacement of both neoclassical and neoliberal economics. Hopefully I’ll get to that soon… and, I’ll keep your final skepticism in my ear as a sort of devil’s advocate admonishing me to do better in answering this. 🙂

      You might read Edmund’s little history on one phase of this:

      http://deterritorialinvestigations.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/resistancecontrol-vanguard-capitalism-for-transnational-activism/

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      • Definitely will. Your site has been incorporated into my morning oblations for quite some time, Craig! If I nettle, it’s because I’m a prick 😉

        And like I said, I worry quite a bit about the use of cognitive incapacity as a political soporific, and it hasn’t escaped my notice that the right has been far, far quicker to seize on the ‘cognitive turn’ than the left…

        Now it’s off to see the Lego Movie!

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      • Enjoy! Yea, a great deal of cultural thinking needs to incorporate your notions of cognitive incapacity and a complete revision of intentionality as naturalized… Mirowski is stuck in the old phenomenology in that respect. But one realizes he’s neither a scientist nor a philosopher. He lacks breadth in these fields and I see the shortcomings in his anchored stance in older cybernetic theory. Yet, he has a few good things to say and needs a hearing as long as one doesn’t take it all as stock truth, but realizes that it like anything else is just another heuristic map to be used in correcting our blinkered mind. We may keep on tinkering forever, but maybe one day someone will actually get the neuroscientific aspects down right, and then hopefully a good journalist will translate that for the rest of us. Till then we have your blog 🙂

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