Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Alessandro Bonanno and Lawrence Busch
The international political economy of agriculture and food: An introduction
In his illustration of the virtues of neoliberalism and the functioning of the free market, Friedrich von Hayek (2011; 2007) denounces the perils associated with attempts to politically direct the economy. Referring to politically selected economic objectives and measures as “intelligent design,” Hayek contends that they can never be replacements for the highly desirable solutions offered by the autonomous functioning of the market. Political plans of any type, he contends, need to be eliminated from the managing of the economy. Accordingly, for Hayek and likeminded neoliberals, political economy should be confined to nothing more than the free functioning of the market. This neoliberal position stands in sharp contrast to the manner in which the political economy of agri-food has been interpreted and evolved for virtually the entire modern era and, certainly, throughout the 20th Century. Keynesian, radical, socialist, social democratic, but also beginning of the century laissez-faire approaches have interpreted and managed agriculture and food in terms of the interplay of a variety of factors pertaining to the economic, social, cultural, political and geopolitical spheres.