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Mutant NeoliberalismMarket Rule and Political Rupture$
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William Callison and Zachary Manfredi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823285716

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823285716.001.0001

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Neoliberalism, Rationality, and the Savage Slot

Neoliberalism, Rationality, and the Savage Slot

(p.177) Six Neoliberalism, Rationality, and the Savage Slot
Mutant Neoliberalism

Julia Elyachar

Fordham University Press

This chapter upends usual discussions of neoliberal governmentality by focusing on the relation of neoliberalism to the irrational. The central task of neoliberalism in its early days was to resurrect a discredited liberalism. WW I and the problematic Versailles Peace of 1919 convinced many that irrationality lay at the core of the “civilized” European world. Those who became neo-liberal (before the hyphen was eliminated) embraced that which was irrational while resolutely attacking all kinds of collectivism. Early neoliberals such as Mises equated socialists with savages and put socialists in what Trouillot called “The Savage Slot,” thanks to their wilful overthrow of the free market price system, without which rationality itself could not exist. Hayek and the next generation of neoliberals shifted the source of irrationality into the physiology of individual humans. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union against which early neoliberal polemics were aimed, tacit knowledge moved out of the body to the corporation via Jean Lave’s concept of communities of practice. The chapter draws on classic works in anthropology; history of economic thought; US corporate history; and obscure annals of the public sector in Egypt to make these arguments.

Keywords:   anthropology, corporate practice, Hayek, irrationality, Malinowski, Mises, neoliberalism, rationality, savage, socialism

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