But Mirowski just states that Bernanke sides with the neoliberal position of Milton Friedman. He simply fails to understand that Chicagoites and Austrians are diametrically opposed on fundamental questions and that it is a fallacy to consider them as ideologically and methodologically close.
Why does he not clearly differentiate between the Chicago and the Austrian school? First, the Austrian school and the Chicago school share many free market ideas. Members of both schools generally oppose price controls, product regulation and the public provision of education services. Yet, as we have pointed out above, differences abound. The Chicago School supports central banking and anti trust, while the Austrian school does not.
Second, Hayek became a professor in Chicago in Yet, the location of Hayek at Chicago does not imply that he was close to Chicago ideas. This is understandable as Hayek was very critical of the positivistic approach that Chicago economists followed. Both the Chicago School and the Ordoliberal School can be classified as neoliberal. They oppose socialism, but also Manchesterism, i.
They also want the state to provide some social security.
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There have been tensions from almost the very beginning between Austrians and the neoliberals within the Mont Pelerin Society. In retrospect and from the point of view of the Austrian school, it may be regarded indeed as a strategic error to found an alliance with the Chicago school and other neoliberals in the Mont Pelerin Society. As Austrians and neoliberals are united in the Mont Pelerin Society, authors like Mirowski tend to conflate neoliberalism with libertarianism and Chicago positions with Austrian ones.
Instead of treating neoliberals as friends with a common cause, Austrians could have fared better by regarding neoliberals just as enemies of their enemies; namely of full-blown socialism. Austrians could have made their ideological and methodological difference much clearer in a Mont Pelerin Society dominated by them and excluding Chicago and other neoliberals.
Most of the attacks from Mirowski against the economic profession per se or against liberalism would have lost credibility. He would have had to direct his criticism only against the Chicago school and neoliberals. Sometimes Mirowski falls into a crude anti-capitalist propaganda. For instance, he regards Facebook as an epitome of evil.
People are, somehow, induced by neoliberalism to superficial self-marketing. In the digital age, everything is a market, even the self. Thereby, people lose their true identity. Everything becomes flexible as new skills are acquired according to market needs. For Mirowski, people are forced to construct a flexible neoliberal entrepreneurial identity, which he considers as the end of a true personality. Suffice to say that no-one forces anyone to use the services supplied by Facebook. Their use is completely voluntary. One might deplore some cultural developments, such as more superficial human relationships, a decline of deep friendship and the family, a lack of time for spiritual and unremunerated activities.
Yet, it is not by capitalism but the expansion of the welfare state financed by fiat money that fosters these developments. The welfare state by assuming responsibilities of civil society weakens its traditional ties; namely deep friendship and the family. Fiat money and its concomitant culture of debt make our life faster, more stressful and less independent. High debts turn the focus on money earning activities. Moreover, Mirowski forgets that it is free markets and private property that allows for the development of a personality.
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Private property is akin to an extension of the body and materializes the personality. The writer owns his pen, the soccer player his shoes, the doctor his instruments and the musician his violin. Private property allows us to develop our personality. Without private property no one can develop and enhance his or her personality.
Private property gives people the chance to grow and change. Markets offer many opportunities to develop a personality. They allow people to become more flexible and acquire new skills, but it is their voluntary choice. Many people would regard the possibility of satisfying not only the needs of the majority but also the needs of minorities as a great feature and advantage of the market economy.
The market economy does not discriminate against the needs that a majority might find strange.
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Who is Mirowski to judge the needs of other people if these people do not violate any property rights? And what about Mirowski himself? Is it not strange to write a populist book trying to smash the idea of free and voluntary exchange by putting old anti-capitalist propaganda into new clothes? Is it not really strange that someone advocates the intervention of the government, i.
Thanks to the market individuals may actually buy his book and satisfy their prejudices against liberty. Offering another fallacy to the reader, Mirowski argues that the market is in the self-interest of only some players that lobby for it, for instance through the Mont Pelerin Society and related instutions. He finds it also absurd to think that no market can ever be coercive and writes that there are losers in the market process. He fails to see that a free market, voluntary exchanges based on private property are by definition in the self-interest of all market participants as they expect to benefit ex ante from such exchanges.
A voluntary exchange is a win-win-situation. It is only ex post the voluntary exchange that losses may be realized. Mirowski is also an adherent to the doctrine that marketing manipulates the consumer.
For him, it is only an illusion that consumers want a product. This illusion is artificially imposed on consumers by the advertisement campaigns of self-interested companies. Of course, marketing attempts to influence and to convince the consumer to try the product. Sometimes marketing is successful; sometimes it fails to attain the end. If the consumer tries the product due to promises that the product cannot hold, he will not try it again.
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The market allows for experimentation. A product that does not satisfy consumer needs at a reasonable price will be pushed out of the market and will not generate the revenues to pay for its advertisement. Therefore, in the long run only good products are advertised. Why not acknowledge the evidence that people voluntarily inform themselves, experiment and compare products?
Why not acknowledge that people are able to resist the influences of marketing? Finally, is Mirowski not himself manipulating with his suggestive language and anti-capitalist propaganda? Mirowski regards liberty as democratic participation and the market as an entity that rules the people. The conceptual distortions committed by Mirowski are almost comical. Liberty is absence of infringements on private property rights.
Democratic participation, i. The market is no entity that somehow rules the people. Entrepreneurs do not impose anything on consumers. They are trying to anticipate the needs future consumers. In a sense, they represent the wishes of future consumers. First, he argues that the members of the Mont Pelerin Society argue in favor of a liberal society but the MPS itself is a closed and secrete society.