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The Morals of the Market

Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism

Jessica Whyte



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Verso Books
19 November 2019
Drawing on detailed archival research on the parallel histories of human rights and neoliberalism, Jessica Whyte uncovers the place of human rights in neoliberal attempts to develop a moral framework for a market society. In the wake of the Second World War, 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:   Jessica Whyte
Imprint:   Verso Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   368g
ISBN:   9781786633118
ISBN 10:   1786633116
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   19 November 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jessica Whyte is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. She is the author of Catastrophe and Redemption: The Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben.

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

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, author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World We now know that neoliberals preached less the retreat of state and supranational institutions than their refashioning. What we did not know, and what Jessica Whyte teaches us in her propulsive and probing book, is how central a rethinking of human rights was to the neoliberal project. In her genealogy of market morality, Whyte offers the best history yet of how neoliberals put hierarchical ideas of civilization and race at the heart of their thought from its origins, and how they constructed their version of human rights as a barricade and battering ram against political projects premised on human equality and economic justice. - Quinn Slobodian, Wellesley College This beautifully written book combines historical inquiry, theoretical rigor, and archival research to explore the complicated relationship between neoliberal market morals, imperialism, and human rights politics in the twentieth-century. Whyte's astonishingly original argument cuts through neoliberal deflection like a scythe offering us insights into human rights essential to imagining a better political future. - Jeanne Morefield, University of Birmingham In this masterful book, Jessica Whyte explodes the common myth that neoliberalism and human rights are independent and incompatible projects. From the economists of the Mont Pelerin Society to the humanitarians who founded Doctors without Borders, Whyte reveals a sometimes shocking covert history of the hijacking of human rights by neoliberal thinkers who recoded human liberty and dignity as the products of submission to a 'free market' and promoted inequality as a social good. The Morals of the Market is provocative, sobering, and indispensable reading for understanding how we find ourselves in our current state of rotten affairs. - Joseph Slaughter, author of Human Rights, Inc. Jessica Whyte's new book provides a thorough, devastating and utterly convincing demonstration of the way neoliberal economists and thinkers hijacked once-revolutionary concepts of universal human rights, and turned them into weapons to be used against emancipatory and anti-colonial political projects all over the world. The full moral and political price of our abject surrender to `market necessities' has never been so clearly calculated; anyone who reads this book will see that it's high time we stopped paying it. - Peter Hallward, author of The Will of the People and the Struggle for Popular Sovereignty Beautifully written, theoretically sophisticated, and excoriating all at the same time. - Jeanne Morefield, Jacobin [An] illuminating new book. - Neve Gordon, Los Angeles Review of Books A compelling, rigorous, deep and passionate study of the morals underpinning human rights and neo-liberal markets - Martin Arias-Loyola, Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile. International Affairs Perhaps the best book on the subject yet / a veritable treasure trove of riches. // The Morals of the Market will be read and discussed for many years to come because Whyte has produced a rare work which makes interdisciplinary history and philosophy look not only easy, but necessary. - Matthew McManus, Whitman. Human Rights Review A brilliant new book // Engrossing and comprehensively researched, The Morals of the Market sparkles with erudite engagements across modern political theory that contextualises neoliberal thought. - Ben Huf, Australian Book Review A timely contribution to a field that, at least to some, could be facing its twilight. If we are to dislodge human rights of its condition of fellow travellers, it is important to maintain Whyte's critical approach - Daniel Pinheiro Astone, Stockholm University. Social and Legal Studies Whyte sets out to tell the 'story of how neoliberal thinkers made human rights the morals of the market'. On this score Whyte succeeds admirably: through a thorough, well-written, and cogent account of the work of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) and how its leading lights articulated a specifically moral account of the virtues of 'free' markets to embed and defend their civilizational ideals. - Paul O'Connell, SOAS, Legal Form Jessica Whyte's new book, The Morals of the Market, demonstrates the kind of scholarship we all aspire to: insightful, thought-provoking, and, above all, accessible and engaging. // a powerful narrative about how neoliberalism and human rights spread in tandem in a mutually constitutive fashion, implanting capitalist social relations across the world, and how human rights were instrumental in crashing alternative political projects, most notably welfarism and third world aspirations for global economic redistribution. - Eva Nanopoulos, Queen Mary, Legal Form What precisely is the relation between neoliberalism and human rights? Jessica Whyte's elegant Morals of the Market tackles this question directly, skillfully, and insightfully. // Morals of the Market is an excellent book, all the more so for its clarity and its combination of panoramic synthesis and issue-specific analysis. - Umut OEzsu, Legal Form An excellent new book // The Morals of the Market succeeds on every count. This fascinating book has a lot of new and surprising things to teach us about human rights and neoliberalism, those longstanding and cherished objects of left critical theorization. And the lessons it teaches us about them both are essential if we are to properly understand their historical trajectories (and hence to perform the necessary political work of contesting, reframing, or refusing them in the present). // an utterly indispensable reference point for thinking about our contemporary political juncture. - Ben Golder, Contemporary Political Theory [a] thought-provoking and engaging study on the relationship between human rights and the rise of neoliberalism. - Shane Darcy, International Dialogue, A Multidisciplinary Journal of World Affairs

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