Blog post

Neoliberal, Brutalist, and Short: Blueprint Magazine Reviews Owen Hatherley’s A New Kind of Bleak

Matthew Cole19 September 2012

This much is clear: obstacles that need to be overcome—whether they be material, as in the case of derelict brownfield sites and dilapadated council estates, or immaterial as in the case of the ideologies of competing neoliberal governments—are political. The materialist critique of Owen Hatherley's A New Kind of Bleak, is a crucial intervention amid a crisis of socialised bailouts to financial capital. As Thomas Wensing notes in his review for Blueprint Magazine, "the timing of his reflections...could not be better chosen."

The nasty, brutalist, and short realities of Britain in the last third of the 20th century are chronicled by Hatherley in a way not unlike those before him:

The literary mode of offering a political critique through an account of travels, either real (Daniel Defoe's Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain) or Imagined (Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travls) has a long tradition in the UK. 

Most importantly however, as Wensing points out, "the questions poignantly raised through Hatherley's travels are where the real price lies of the 30 years or so of neoliberal experimentation and what the alternatives could be." Hopefully, we will find the latter soon.

Wensing's review can be read in full in this month's Blueprint Magazine.