After two government bailouts of the U.S. economy in less than twenty years, free market ideology is due for serious reappraisal. In Free Market: the History of an Idea, Jacob Soll details how we got to this current crisis, and how we can find our way out by looking to earlier iterations of free market thought. Contrary to popular narratives, early market theorists believed that states had an important role in building and maintaining free markets. But in the eighteenth century, thinkers insisted on free markets without state intervention, leading to a tradition of ideological brittleness. That tradition only calcified in the centuries that followed. Tracing the intellectual evolution of the free market from Cicero to Milton Friedman, Soll argues that we need to go back to the origins of free market ideology in order to truly understand it—and to develop new economic concepts to face today’s challenges.
Jacob Soll is professor of history and accounting at the University of Southern California. He has been awarded numerous prestigious prizes including two NEH Fellowships, the Jacques Barzun Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and, in 2011, the MacArthur Fellowship. He also advises political and financial leaders across the globe to promote accounting standards and financial transparency.
Joining Jacob Soll to discuss his book will be: Pierre Force, Professor of French and History at Columbia; John Shovlin, Professor of History at NYU; and Carl Wennerlind, Professor of History at Barnard College. Emmanuelle Saada, Professor of History and French at Columbia, will moderate the discussion.