Neoliberal Freedom as Stoic Resignation

Hosted by LSE Human Rights and the Department of Anthropology

Online public event


Dr Jessica Whyte

Dr Jessica Whyte


Dr Yazan Doughan

Dr Yazan Doughan

In this talk, Jessica Whyte will trace the development of neoliberal attitudes to the subjective comportment required for a functioning competitive market. Her focus is on the irony by which a neoliberal movement that emerged as a critique of the stoic resignation of previous liberals in the face of poverty, mass unemployment and economic misery, ultimately came to counsel what Friedrich Hayek termed “submission” to our market-dispensed fates.

Neoliberalism is commonly understood as a philosophy embracing free trade or laissez-faire. And yet, a key impetus for its development was the rejection of the earlier liberal idea that markets operated in a realm of natural freedom. Walter Lippman, the American journalist who inspired the early neoliberals, believed that liberals had become simple apologists for the miseries of the existing legal order because they neglected the role of law and the state in consolidating the liberal capitalist order. By doing so, he argued, they were reduced to preaching “stoic resignation” in the face of the human suffering that resulted from the market. 

Meet our speaker and chair

Jessica Whyte is Scientia Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. Her work integrates political philosophy, intellectual history and political economy to analyse contemporary forms of sovereignty, human rights, humanitarianism and militarism. She is author of Catastrophe and Redemption: The Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben and The Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism.

Yazan Doughan (@yazan_doughan) is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His work straddles the linguistic and socio-cultural branches of the discipline, with close engagements with social and legal theory, conceptual and social history, and moral philosophy. His work blends ethnography, genealogy, and history to shed light on the question of social justice in contemporary postcolonial contexts, with Jordan as a primary field site.

More about this event

LSE Human Rights (@LSEHumanRights) is a trans-disciplinary centre of excellence for international academic research, teaching and critical scholarship on human rights.

LSE's Anthropology Department (@LSEAnthropology), with a long and distinguished history, remains a leading centre for innovative research and teaching.

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Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Neoliberal Freedom as Stoic Resignation.

A video of this event is available to watch at Neoliberal Freedom as Stoic Resignation.

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