The "Neoliberalism" is a term that denotes several political and economic policies that have strongly shaped the global economy over the past thirty years. It has its intellectual roots in the in classical liberalism and the opposition to Keynesian economics. However, as a governing policy it is most closely associated with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. These two figures had more or less managed to put into practice a political philosophy that had been almost completely relegated to the realm of obscure think-tank thinking. Their success in this regard has been so thorough that almost all economic and political institutions, from all sides of the political spectrum, have been operating within some form of neoliberal paradigm ever since. Neoliberalism is usually associated with the political right, but there are several more or less important aspects of it that distinguish it from other right-leaning philosophies, and this book does a very good job at explaining the differences between them. In particular, it contrasts neoliberalism with economic nationalism that time and time again resurfaces in it various manifestations in right-wing political movements throughout the World.
One of the book's strong points is that it provides a global context for neoliberalism. It shows how it has been implemented on all six continents, and it discusses particular local circumstances that give neoliberalism a distinct flavor in various countries. The book, however, is a bit too quick to point out all the limitations of the neoliberal policies, and I feel it sometimes uses unnecessarily harsh language to characterize certain political actions that are deemed contrary to neoliberal principles. The final chapter deals with the current global economic crisis. Here one almost gets a sense that the authors are engaging in a form of schadenfreude at the apparent failings of neoliberalism. Whether neoliberalism has really run its course or not, or whether it really is a sustainable political philosophy in a long run, the history will still have to decide.
Overall, this is a very interesting and informative book. It is great introduction to main salient points of what neoliberalism, and well worth the read.
I like little books that make a lot of concise and intelligent points about important life forces, and this one is no exception. "Neoliberalism" serves both as a general history and a primer on how to make sense of the rise of modern liberalism throughout the 20th century and beyond. The authors approach this subject in a very thorough and informative manner: liberalism (the freedom of the individual to function and prosper within a democratic society) is well defined in its various models from classical to reform to economic. Much of the information here comes in the form of reviewing the highlights of this movement as it embodies the works and ideas of some very influential thinkers and academics like Adam Smith, David Ricardo,John Stuart Mills, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman. These were people who championed, over time, the libertarian ideologies of freer trade, lower taxes, lower interest rates, less regulation, smaller government, retaining the gold standard and more economic competition. Where it gets complicated is how these ideas were adopted and applied by centrist and right-wing governments to promote conservative political agendas for the retooling of society. This book takes us through the eras of the Thatcherism and Reaganomics in the 1980s, and Clintonism in the 1990s as they promoted a greater reliance on personal initiative as opposed to dependency on the state, all aided by a more favourable tax regimen. What came out of these neo-liberal and neo-conservative agendas was the introduction of lower corporate and middle-class tax rates and a growing emphasis on military expansion in a growing attempt to develop an international capitalist hegemony. Ergo, the rush to globalization in the 90s and beyond, where the rules of engagement have moved away from economic nationalism to neo-liberalism with GATT, IMF, NAFTA and OECD acting as the guiding forces. Written by two academics who definitely have a leftist political view of life, this book raises the all-important question as to what the future holds for a concept that has been largely disgraced by the market melt-down of 2008. Heretical as it may sound, the forces of neo-liberalism, while bruised and bloodied, are still alive and kicking well into the 21st century because that is the only viable way the world knows for securing its economic future even though it has been shown to be very deficient on a number of points.
on February 25, 2013
"Neoliberalism" is not a term that is in the news, but it is something very much with us as it determines how we are governed, live our lives and gain our livilihood. It is in other terms the market driven economy, the corporate welfare state, globalization and the new feudalism.
Citizens have to be aware that there is a very powerful and pervasive interloper in their relationship with elected representatives. Politicians, elected by the people, are too often in service to the corporate good at the expense of the public good. It is no coincidence we are seeing the decline of the middle class in the US and Canada. It is a casualty of neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism is all about deregulation, privatization and the denegration of government. Deregulation has been an utter disaster for the US economy and one of the fundamental reasons it is in crisis.
The book is only intended as a primer on the subject and it serves this purpose wonderfully. It is an enticement to read further on the subject and see for ourselves the corrupted value system that is redefining our cultures.