Beyond the ‘Republican’ Economy: Hayek and Pettit on Private Property

Republican political theorists have spilled a lot of ink in the attempt to present ‘republicanism’ as a distinctive alternative to liberalism. The landmark book is, of course, Philip Pettit’s Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government, published in 1997. I have written about some of the problems of republicanism on this blog (here, here and … More Beyond the ‘Republican’ Economy: Hayek and Pettit on Private Property

Republicanism and wage-labour

In a previous post, I presented a criticism of republicanism’s inability to adequately address the problems of power exerted in the modern capitalist economy. This should come as no surprise really, given that the republican notion of liberty as ‘non-domination’ was articulated within the context of pre-capitalist economies characterized by the employment of dependent forms … More Republicanism and wage-labour

Capitalism, Contextualization and The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism

Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of C. B. Macpherson’s classic study of seventeenth century English political theory, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism. Macpherson’s book signalled an important shift in the history of political thought; it sought to situate English political thought within the social context of a ‘possessive market society’. Despite its innovations, … More Capitalism, Contextualization and The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism

Republicans against Hayek

I’ve been re-reading Philip Pettit’s book Republicanism after having recently read most of Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty. What is striking about Pettit’s book is the seemingly wilful neglect of Hayek’s conceptualization of liberty. In fact, in his republican critique of negative liberty, Pettit neglects to address either, The Constitution of Liberty or Law, Legislation … More Republicans against Hayek

Capitalism, Liberalism and Democracy pt.II

In my first post, I presented a brief account of the historical tensions between liberalism and democracy, with particular attention on the levelling threat that democracy was thought to pose to elite forms of power – in particular, private property. I broke the narrative off at the end of a discussion regarding the English notion … More Capitalism, Liberalism and Democracy pt.II

The Invention of Market Freedom

Eric MacGilvray’s book, The Invention of Market Freedom (Cambridge University Press, 2011) presents a compelling and convincing narrative of the historical eclipse of the republican conception of freedom by the more familiar market conception of freedom in the context of the synthesis of liberal and republican thought in the late eighteenth century. The crux of the argument is that … More The Invention of Market Freedom

CB Macpherson in India: the revival of possessive individualism

A few years ago I was thinking of C.B. Macpherson’s book, The Political theory of Possessive Individualism.  The fiftieth year anniversary was coming up in 2012, and I was thinking of the possibility of putting on a commemorative conference dealing with the legacy of the book. As it turns out, a number of post-graduates associated … More CB Macpherson in India: the revival of possessive individualism

The Technocratic Tendencies of Contemporary Neo-liberalism

‘The Programme of Liberalism, if condensed into a single word, would have to read: property, that is, private ownership of the means of production. All the other demands of liberalism result from this fundamental demand.’ Ludwig Von Mises[1] The general contours of the neo-liberal conception of the state are now quite well known. Positing a … More The Technocratic Tendencies of Contemporary Neo-liberalism

Capitalism, Liberalism and Democracy

    The current economic crisis is highlighting the tensions between capitalism, liberalism and democracy. In the Eurozone, unaccountable financial actors and institutions are imposing harsh austerity measures on member states that are seriously undermining the legitimacy of democratically elected governments. We are told that we must sacrifice the present in order to save the … More Capitalism, Liberalism and Democracy