Is there something fundamentally different about contemporary capitalism than the system that Adam Smith identified, Karl Marx critiqued, and John Maynard Keynes sought to reform? If so, is there a unique underlying logic to what is frequently called neoliberalism (a.k.a. post-Reagan/Thatcher capitalism)? Co-hosts Eric Newman and LARB Economics and Finance editor Michelle Chihara speak with political economist Martijn Konings about his ambitious new book, Capital and Time: For a New Critique of Neoliberal Reason, which posits that, yes, the current global order is distinct in ways that impacts every aspect of our lives. This raises two essential issues: one, on the economic and political front, how can we hope to reform (let alone challenge) neoliberalism if we don’t have a solid theoretical understanding of how it operates in our daily lives; two, on the philosophical front, given how all-encompassing this system is in our materialist society, what does it say about how we experience “reality,” in particular time? As Martin takes us through the changes that led to the rise of neoliberal logic, he reveals the web we are entangled in — and, to paraphrase one of Martijn’s predecessors, an accurate interpretation of the world is a necessary first step to changing it.
Also, Brian Phillips, author of Impossible Owls, drops by to recommend Rebecca West’s beautiful, heart-wrenching 1956 novel The Fountain Overflows.