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Published on Aug 18, 2013

Life and Debt: Living through the Financialisation of the Biosphere
Philip Mirowski keynote for ‘Life and Debt’ conference

How can it be that the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the deepest financial crisis since 1930s have done so little to undermine the supremacy of orthodox economics?

The lecture will preview material from Mirowski’s new book: Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Verso, 2013).

In this lecture, Professor Mirowski responds to the question of how it is that science came to be subordinate to economics and the very future of nature to be contingent upon the market. Charting the contradictions of the contemporary political landscape, he notes that science denialism, markets for pollution permits and proposals for geo-engineering can all be understood as political strategies designed to neutralize the impact of environmentalism, as they all originated in the network of corporate-sponsored think-tanks that have made neoliberal accounts of society, politics and the economy so prevalent that even the most profound crises are unable to shake their grip on the political imagination.

For those of us who are still paying attention, the task of constructing an alternative politics of science and markets is a vital one.

Philip Mirowski is Carl E. Koch Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. His most famous book, More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics (1989) established his reputation as a formidable critic of the scientific status of neoclassical economics. His Machine Dreams: Economics becomes a Cyborg Science (2002) presents a history of the Cold War consolidation of American economic orthodoxy in the same intellectual milieu that produced systems theory, the digital computer, the atomic bomb, the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction, and the ‘think tank’. The Road from Mont Pelerin: the Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (with Dieter Plewhe, 2009), drawn from the archives of the Mont Pelerin Society and the Chicago School, presents a scholarly history of neoliberalism: the political movement initiated by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman in the 1940s, which has since become the world’s dominant philosophy of government. As a leading exponent of the Institutional school, he has published formal treatments of financial markets that update Mynsky’s ‘financial instability hypothesis’ for the world of computerised derivative trading.

This lecture is presented by the UTS Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre and the Australian Working Group on Financialisation at the University of Sydney.

With thanks to Chuck Willer for this link

One thought on “Philip Mirowski keynote for ‘Life and Debt’ conference (2012)

  1. noir-realism says:

    Reblogged this on noir realism and commented:
    Excellent lecture by Mirowski who wrote a couple great works on the neoliberal agenda: The Road from Mont Pelerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective; and, Machine Dreams: Economics becomes a Cyborg Science.

    I’ve been reading the latter for a while now. In this lecture he takes on the Climate agenda of the Neoliberals. Along the way discusses Foucault, Neoclassical economics, Naomi Kliein, etc. toward a nuanced discussion on what is on the plate with CO2 emissions and the carbon reduction schemes. What he terms the Neoliberal prescription: a threefold scheme to boondoggle the public in short term, medium term, and long term schemes of propaganda leading to vast markets of geoengineering of the climate. All of these schemes purporting to solve not the actual problem of carbon emissions, but to actually set that initiative to naught. He also details his reason of what the Left needs to do to counter this neoliberal vision. And, also, accuses the Left of having little or no intellectual vision at this moment to counter much of anything, much less the crisis of climate warming coming at us.

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