Jessica Whyte - The Morals of the Market - Wednesday 27th November

The Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism

To be launched by Associate Professor Ben Golder

Why has the neoliberal age also been the age of human rights? Drawing on detailed archival research on the parallel histories of human rights and neoliberalism in the twentieth century, Jessica Whyte uncovers the place of human rights in neoliberal attempts to develop a moral framework for a market society. In the wake of World War Two, neoliberals saw demands for new rights to social welfare and self-determination as threats to ‘civilisation’. Yet, rather than rejecting rights, they developed a distinctive account of human rights as tools to depoliticise civil society, protect private investments and shape liberal subjects.

By critically examining neoliberal political thought, Whyte shows that the neoliberals developed a stark dichotomy between politics, conceived as conflictual, coercive and violent, and civil society, which they depicted as a realm of mutually-beneficial, voluntary, market relations between individual subjects of rights. In mobilising human rights to provide a moral language for a market society, neoliberals contributed far more than is often realised to today’s politics of human rights. Without coming to terms with that influence, those who mobilise human rights to contest neoliberalism may instead find that they strengthen its hold.   ORDER THE BOOK

“Among the most brilliant and implacable younger intellectuals working today, Jessica Whyte has turned in a masterful and thrilling account of how neoliberals faced down and helped remake human rights for our time. With its intrepid documentation of how Friedrich Hayek and his fellows engaged with the annunciation of human rights in the 1940s, and its fascinating wealth of evidence about how deeply neoliberal assumptions about markets and nations affected the rise of humanitarian advocacy in the 1970s, The Morals of the Market is a fundamental challenge that no one can avoid.”

– Samuel Moyn, Yale, author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World


Date and time: Wednesday 27th November, 6pm for 6.30pm

Please RSVP here or phone 02 9660 2333

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