Hide/Show Apps

An Unconventional Critique of Economic Liberalism: Reconsidering the Austrian School in the Light of Fernand Braudel

Austrian school of economics tends to identify ‘capitalism’ with the ‘market economy’. A celebrated member of this school once warned that “[t]he psychological problem of why people scorn and disparage capitalism and call everything they dislike ‘capitalistic’ … concerns history and must be left to the historians.” One does not have to be a specialist in history in order to acquaint himself with the magnum opus of the “Pope of history”, namely Civilization and Capitalism of Fernand Braudel. Braudel’s full-fledged historical analysis comes to the amazing point that capitalism and the market economy are ‘exact opposites.’ Capitalists have invariably bent the ‘spontaneous’ rules of the market so as to convert the ‘legible’ market data into the ‘tacit’ knowledge of the privileged few. Consequently, ‘money’ has served as a ‘power’ pivot rather than a mere medium of exchange, whereas the ‘market process’ has had to propagate wealth/power gaps apart fromconverting individual self-interests into social good. As such, our interpretation puts an entirely new face on liberal economic thought.