This is an important and wide ranging conversation about the history of economic ideas and how it played out in political discourse, specifically, how free market fundamentalism, an idea that appeared to be dead in the 1940s, survived and became dominant.
One of the themes in this talk between Fred Block, professor of sociology at UC Davis, and Rob Johnson of INET is the conflict between the idea of “freedom” at the root of free market fundamentalism, which means “freedom to be left alone” versus democracy. As this discussion makes clear, markets cannot self-regulate. They become bare-fisted brawls for assets and power. Perversely from the perspective of the free market fundamentalists, aka libertarian utopians, for markets to deliver the positive benefits ascribed to them, you need government intervention: good access to court systems to enforce contracts and other rights, regulation to contend with externalities and curb predatory practices which are purely extractive, as well as the accumulation of monopoly/oligopoly power.
From the introduction on the INET site:
Despite the manifest shortcomings of market fundamentalism that have been on display over the past few years, Block argues that these principles remain powerfully seductive because they promise to diminish the role of politics in civic and social life, which is a particularly attractive feature for the “haves” who want to maximize their assets at the expense of the “have-nots.” Since politics entails coercion and unsatisfying compromises among groups with deep conflicts, the wish to narrow its scope is understandable. But like Marx’s theory that communism leads to a “withering away of the State,” the flip-side argument that free markets can replace government is just as utopian and dangerous, as Block seeks to demonstrate in this interview.
The end game, as came to pass in Chile under Pinochet, was, as one commentator later wrote, “People died so that markets could be free.”