Did we trade freedom for credit? Finance, domination, and the political economy of freedom

European Journal of Political Theory 20 (3) (2018)
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This article concerns freedom and financial markets. First, I consider the republican case for liberalization, extending Robert Taylor’s economic model of republicanism to financial markets. This case adopts what I call a “philosopher-king” approach to political theory, arguing by reference an ideal or first-best set of policies or reforms. Then, I investigate the negative externalities of several decades of financial market liberalization, including the erosion of political accountability and the growing concentration of political and economic power in the hands of those best suited to profit from the rise of finance. From this “political economy” perspective, the impact of liberalization is clear: we paid for greater access to credit with political and economic domination. In republican terms, we traded freedom for credit. My analysis, moreover, has implications for republican debates on freedom and the market. In second-best worlds, where reforms will almost certainly be incremental, shaping the balance of power in ways that impact future policy, judging reforms by reference to a vision of domination-free markets will often suggest policies that make individuals less free. The political economy approach is far more relevant to debates about which economic institutions further or hinder freedom as non-domination.



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Joshua Preiss
Minnesota State University, Mankato

References found in this work

Realism in Normative Political Theory.Enzo Rossi & Matt Sleat - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (10):689-701.
Philosophy and Real Politics.Raymond Geuss - 2008 - Princeton University Press.
Realism in political theory.William Galston - 2010 - European Journal of Political Theory 9 (4):385-411.
What Is Political Philosophy?Charles Larmore - 2013 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (3):276-306.

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