Liberalism - Historical and Contemporary Variations

8.10.2019
"Liberalism - Historical and Contemporary Variations" conference, 24-25 October 2019, University of Helsinki, Porthania IV (Suomen Laki Hall), Yliopistonkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki

Read the abstracts of the presentations here!

Keynotes: Quinn Slobodian (Wellesley), Werner Bonefeld (York), S. M. Amadae (Helsinki)

24 October 2019

09:30-10:45 Keynote: Quinn Slobodian (Wellesley College): Distressed Neoliberalism: Two Ways of Looking at Politics since the Crisis

10:45-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-13:00 Ordoliberalism and the Reformation of the Liberal Project
Olimpia Malatesta (University of Bologna): Ordoliberalism as a philosophy of crisis: On the “end of capitalism” and the legacy of 19th-century social sciences
Timo Miettinen (University of Helsinki): Ordoliberalism and the Rethinking of Liberal Rationality
Pavlos Roufos (Kassel University): The political economy of Ordoliberalism: Weimar, 1929 and Nazism as determinants of the ordoliberal framework
Richard Sturn & Nenad Pantelic (University of Graz): Varieties of Liberalism between Resilience and Crisis

14:30-16:00 Intersections of neoliberalism: conservatism, Christian politics and social democracy
Merijn Oudenampsen (University of Amsterdam): The responsible society: neoliberalism and Dutch Christian Democracy
Benjamin Thomas (University Of Nottingham): Refraction as a model for neo-liberalisation
Johan Strang (University of Helsinki): Democracy with or without liberalism? The Scandinavian post-war settlement

16:00-16:15 Coffee break

16:15-17:45 Liberalism beyond Europe
Geetanjali Srikantan (Tilburg University): Liberalism as Moral Instruction: Examining the Rejection of Colonial Law in Post-Colonial Judicial Interventions on Religion, Gender and Sexuality in India
Hélène Mayrand (University of Sherbrooke): International Environmental Law as a Neo-Liberal Project
Jeremy Gould (University of Helsinki): Tracking the return migration of Imperial liberalism from the postcolony to the metropole

25 October 2019

09:00-10:15 Keynote: Werner Bonefeld (University of York): Ordoliberalism and the Indispensability of the Political State

10:15-10:30 Coffee break

10:30-12:30 Liberalism: Limits and Antagonisms
Ville Suuronen (University of Helsinki): "National Socialism is the spawn of the hell that is called liberalism"; Hannah Arendt’s Critique of the Liberal Tradition
Peter Povilonis (Humboldt University of Berlin): An Old Story: (Neo-)liberalism’s Connection to Totalitarianism
Tuukka Brunila (University of Helsinki): Limiting the political: Carl Schmitt’s transformative critique of liberalism
Ben Schupmann (Duke Kunshan University): Liberalism and Constrained Democracy

14:00-15:30 Post-war Histories of Liberalism
Kangle Zhang (University of Helsinki): Merton Miller and the Rise of Financial Liberalization
Pauli Heikkilä (University of Helsinki): Between national liberation and international liberalism. Committee of Liberal Exiles
Marko Ampuja (Tampere University): Neoliberalism as Ideology Critique: Hayek, von Mises and Schumpeter on the Intellectual and Cultural Hostility to Capitalism

15:30-16:00 Coffee break

16:00-17:15 Keynote: S. M. Amadae (University of Helsinki): Violence in the Neoliberal Social Contract: From the early modern Machiavelli and modern Bentham to the neoliberals Schelling and Nozick

About the conference

The fate and future of liberalism is one of the central questions of our times. In the European context, nationalist and populist movements are challenging its central achievements: peace, economic integration and the rule of law. Recent developments in Europe, the US and Latin America have posed a serious threat to democratic institutions and rule-based international order. All in all, the optimistic visions of the post-1989 world are being replaced with more pessimistic accounts on the future of liberalism. In February 2018, The Atlantic even called the “death of liberalism” the biggest mass funeral since the “death of God”.

At the same time, the very concept of liberalism suffers from several ambiguities. As a historical phenomenon and a concept, liberalism has been used to denote a variety positions and dogmas from extreme libertarianism to moderate forms of social liberalism, from value liberalism to Third Way reformism. This concerns particularly the problematic concept of neo-liberalism that evidently constitutes one of the key strains of contemporary liberalism. Many see neoliberalism as the leading ideology of our times, yet there are very few who actually call themselves neoliberal.

This conference seeks to bring analytic clarity to the concepts of liberalism by investigating into its historical and contemporary variations. We pay special attention to the various reconfigurations of the liberal doctrine that emerged in the context of interwar and post-WWII Europe (e.g. different forms of neo-liberalism, German ordoliberalism, social liberalism). We focus among other the following questions:

  • What were the key theoretical and intellectual questions that defined the emergence of different “new” liberalisms (neo-liberalism, ordoliberalism, social liberalism etc.) in the interwar period? What kinds of intellectual and philosophical resources they employed?
  • How should we understand the relation between liberalism as a theoretical or moral-philosophical doctrine vs. political movement? What were the main political strategies of different liberalisms?
  • How has contemporary liberalism employed the conceptual and theoretical tools of individual sciences such as economics, law, and political science?

The conference will be held at the University of Helsinki, October 24-25, 2019 and is open to everyone without registration. If you have any questions concerning practicalities, do not hesitate to contact liberalism2019 (at) helsinki.fi. The organizers are unfortunately unable to aid in either travel or accommodation arrangements or the cost of travel or accommodation.