What we might call one of those interesting claims from US academia:
In the 19th century, all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. Wealthy Protestant families with ties to England owned most of the land, renting small tracts to Catholic subsistence farmers. While landlords dedicated acres upon acres to raising cattle and grains for export to Britain, renters were left with scarcely enough land to sustain their families.
The plots were so tiny that tenant farmers came to rely on a single, durable, calorie-rich crop — the potato. In the early 1840s, a fungus afflicting potatoes arrived from the continent, and it devastated small farms, leading to widespread famine. One million Irish people died. Another million immigrated to Britain, Australia and North America. The population of Ireland has never recovered. Even now, fewer people live on the island now than did before the blight.
“Basically, what you had is a society controlled by what we would today call neoliberal capitalism, in which the rich viewed poor people as totally superfluous,” said Kerby Miller, professor emeritus of history at the University of Missouri.
Those of us a little closer to events tend to think of Ireland pre-famine as being rather more akin to a feudal society than a neoliberal one. We're also pretty sure that Peel's rolling out of neoliberalism, the abolition of the Corn Laws and thus lower import prices for wheat, were a pretty good idea. Not sufficient as subsequent events showed but still a good idea.
However, it's this which produces the gasp:
“I certainly do think that the effects of climate change under neoliberal capitalism, under the governing ideology, is just going to be an unbelievable disaster,” Miller said. “Barring a socialist revolution — which completely changes the nation’s value system so that sharing, rather than competition and exploitation, become the primary values — I’m afraid I really don’t hold out a whole lot of hope.”
We would take the great lesson of the 20th century to be that the one thing socialism doesn't produce is bounteous food for the people.
But, you know, maybe things are different in American academe?