Friday, February 12, 2021

The Geneva School and the Globalists. Switzerland’s Contribution to the Neoliberal World Order


neoliberalism Geneva School WTO Switzerland globalism

The Russian Revolution in 1917 panicked Europe’s upper middle classes, already much discredited and weakened by the gigantic tragedy of the First World War, the result of their own greed, irresponsibility and incompetence. The crash of 1929, which almost ruined most of the industrialized capitalist countries but hardly affected the young Soviet Union, further strengthened the alternative posed by the Russian Revolution. This “bourgeoisie” subsequently faced two huge tasks: rebuild the international capitalist order and respond to the challenge posed by Marxist criticism and the Russian Revolution.

A group of intellectuals hostile to communism, to the left in general, and even to New Deal capitalism in the U.S., sought to develop and impose a more authoritarian and profoundly anti-democratic reconstruction of capitalism: neoliberalism... Switzerland was the first country to welcome and finance these intellectuals, playing a key role in shaping the neoliberal order.

Quinn Slobodian, author of Globalists, gave a name to Switzerland’s contribution to neoliberalism: the Geneva School.

For Slobodian:

“The Geneva School includes: thinkers who held academic positions in Geneva, among whom Wilhelm Röpke, Ludwig von Mises, and Michael Heilperin; those who pursued or presented key research there, including Friedrich Hayek, Lionel Robbins, and Gottfried Haberler; and those who worked at the secretariat of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), such as Jan Tumlir and Frieder Roessler. Geneva School neoliberals transposed the ordoliberal idea of ‘the economic constitution’ – or the totality of rules governing economic life – to a scale beyond the nation.”

Still according to this author:

“Geneva – later the home of the WTO – became the spiritual capital of the group of thinkers who sought to solve the riddle of postimperial order “– the period following the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – that obviously included the challenge posed by the Russian Revolution. Slobodian added:

“What the neoliberals of the Geneva School sought was not a partial but a complete protection of the rights of private capital, and the ability of supranational judiciary bodies like the European Court of Justice and the WTO to override national legislation that might disrupt the global rights of capital”, in short, an economic constitution for the world.

For the Geneva School, always according to Slobodian:

“Commitments to national sovereignty and autonomy were dangerous if taken seriously. The Geneva School stalwarts thus believed that after empire, nations must remain embedded in an international institutional order that safeguarded capital and protected their right to move it freely throughout the world. The cardinal sin of the twentieth century was unfettered national independence, and the neoliberal world order required enforceable isonomy – or “same laws”, as Hayek would later call it – against the illusion of autonomy, or “own laws”.”  (more...)

The Geneva School and the Globalists. Switzerland’s Contribution to the Neoliberal World Order


Switzerland’s Dangerous Turn to the Far Right

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