Harper's Asks Harcourt Six Questions About 'The Illusion of Free Markets'

“The Illusion of Free Markets”: Six Questions for Bernard Harcourt
Scott Horton
Harper's Magazine
September 8, 2011

University of Chicago professor Bernard Harcourt is a student, but not a follower, of the Chicago School, an academic movement that has had a profound effect on America in the period since World War II, pushing the country aggressively toward an embrace of neoliberal ideas about economics and politics. In his latest book, The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order, Harcourt probes deeply into some of the contradictions inherent in the thought of the Chicago School, and exposes a striking historical parallel to its work. I put six questions to Harcourt about his new book:

1. Your book builds off an intriguing study of the eighteenth-century French PhysiocratsFrançois Quesnay, Pierre-Paul Le Mercier de la Rivière, and others — in which you suggest that their theories of economics closely parallel what we have come to think of as the Chicago School. What ex