Life and Debt: Living through the Financialisation of the Biosphere
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.