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

Competition and the Commercial Spirit

I came across this gem while reading Hayek’s discussion of private monopoly and competition in Law, Legislation and Liberty. Hayek is discussing the relationship between competition and economic rationality, disputing those who argue that economic rationality or the ‘commercial spirit’ needs to exist for competition to work. In contrast, Hayek argues that the relationship works … More Competition and the Commercial Spirit

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

On Hayek and State Power

The Republican right is a rather tenuous mix of classical liberals, neo-conservatives and libertarians. The tensions between neoconservatism on the one hand, and classical liberalism and libertarianism on the other, has often been noted. Perhaps less attention has been given to the tensions between the classical liberal and the libertarian tendencies of the right. Both, … More On Hayek and State Power

The Uses and Abuses of the Household Analogy

One of the most common ideological tropes employed by ‘austerians’ to rationalize the unprecedented defunding of the public sector in order to socialize the recent failures of finance capital has been to equate the state to a household. Like any common household, the argument goes, the state must live within its means. No household can … More The Uses and Abuses of the Household Analogy

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 Neo-Liberal State

While the fallout of the financial crisis of 2007-8 may have witnessed a general questioning of the feasibility—if not the desirability—of neo-liberal ideas, the resurgence of an ‘anti-state’ right-wing movement in the United States (that is, the Tea Party) and the implementation of historically unprecedented cuts to the public sector in the United Kingdom by … More The Neo-Liberal State

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