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  • Writer's pictureCambridge Society For Economic Pluralism

Austerity and the Economics That Enables It

Guest speakers Clara Mattei and Jonathan Aldred discuss 'Austerity and the Economics That Enables It'.

Date & time:

Thu, 17 November 2022, 17:00 – 18:30 GMT


Keynes Lecture Theatre, King’s College

University of Cambridge King's Parade Cambridge CB2 1ST

CSEP is excited to announce its upcoming speaker event with Professor Mattei and Professors Aldred on the topic of: 'Austerity and The Economics That Enables It.' This combines the commentary on austerity's origins and its fascist consequences in Prof. Mattei's new book 'The Capital Order: How economists invented austerity and paved the way to fascism', and Prof. Aldred's biting critique of prevailing economic theory in 'Licence to be Bad'. Following both speakers’ discussions of their research and ideas, we will open the floor to a Q&A session, as well as an opportunity to meet the speakers’ after the event. There will also be some copies for sale of Prof. Mattei’s book, as she is currently on her UK tour. This will certainly be a highly relevant talk, given that austerity is back in a stark way, particularly in Britain. We are seeing regressive tax cuts for the rich, increase in interest rates, privatisations, soon to be cuts in social spending - and amidst a context of mounting social unrest. Crucially, there is a deep political resonance to the policy. As Prof. Mattei argues in 'The Capital Order': “the perpetuation of austerity to this day should not be reduced to a matter of irrationality or bad economic theory from the experts who run economies. Austerity is a tool to maintain capitalist social relations of production—to maintain class. In an austere capital order, popular protests may arise, but the protesters face a political landscape that structurally disempowers them: it’s hard to protest capitalist austerity when you have to depend on capitalism to survive”. Clara E. Mattei is Assistant Professor in Economics at The New School for Social Research in New York City. Her research contributes to the history of capitalism, exploring the critical relation between economic ideas and technocratic policy making. She especially focuses on the logic of austerity and its role in shaping contemporary societies. Her method integrates historical archival sources with macro-economic empirical data. Her new book, The Capital Order: How Economists invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism has just been published by the University of Chicago Press. Jonathan Aldred is Fellow and Director of Studies in Economics at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, UK. He is interested in the ethical foundations of orthodox economics and the economic policy derived from it. His most recent book is Licence to be Bad (Penguin-Allen Lane 2019), which explores how a handful of key economic ideas emerging in the postwar years changed our views about rationality, fairness, justice and moral behaviour more generally. These new economic ideas gave us a licence to be bad.

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