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The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society

A far-reaching deconstruction of neoliberalism’s economic agenda, political imposition and mystifying techniques

Exploring the genesis of neoliberalism, and the political and economic circumstances of its deployment, Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval dispel numerous common misconceptions. Neoliberalism is neither a return to classical liberalism nor the restoration of “pure” capitalism. To misinterpret neoliberalism is to fail to understand what is new about it: far from viewing the market as a natural given that limits state action, neoliberalism seeks to construct the market and use it as a model for governments. Only once this is grasped will its opponents be able to meet the unprecedented political and intellectual challenge it poses.

Reviews

  • “Erudite and provocative.”
  • The New Way of the World is the best modern realization of Foucault’s pioneering approach to the history of neoliberalism. It wonderfully explores the European roots and branches of the neoliberal thought collective over the twentieth century, and warns that unthinking misrepresentations of its political project as espousing “laissez-faire” has had the effect of allowing the Left to submit to its siren song.”
  • “Extremely scholarly, this book is an insistent invitation to push theoretical and social critique of the present order beyond the standard analyses.”
  • “To understand these debates [on neoliberalism], the book by Christian Laval and Pierre Dardot on the “neoliberal society” offers us analytical keys. This monument of scholarship draws on the history of ideas, philosophy and sociology.”
  • “A compelling analysis of neoliberal governmentally in the era of capitalist financialization.”

Blog

  • Benign Neglect and Planned Shrinkage

    The frequency and scale of the spectacular fires that consumed much of the South Bronx and other areas of New York City throughout the 1970s can in large part be blamed on the recommendations for fire service reduction made by the New York City-RAND Institute and HUD between 1969 and 1976. In 1973, urban epidemiologists Deborah Wallace and Rodrick Wallace got access to Rand's fire service reports. Immediately recognizing the flimsy pseudoscience that undergirded their claims, they began to write and campaign against the station closures and the other policies based on Rand recommendations.

    "By 1978," the Wallaces write in their introduction to
     A Plague on Your Houses: How New York Was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled (published by Verso in 1998), "we discovered that the Rand-recommended fire service cuts had triggered an epidemic of building fires and heated up a related epidemic of building abandonment. We submitted a grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to assess public health outcomes of this massive destruction of housing in New York's poor neighborhoods. The NIH did not even review our proposal. That research plan, carried out over a period of fifteen years without federal funding, resulted in this book."

    In the excerpt below, Wallace and Wallace situate the development of Rand's recommendations in the context of the deliberate de-industrialization of New York undertaken by federal and state officials.  
       


    John Fekner, Charlotte Street Stencils, South Bronx, NY 1980. via Wikimedia Commons.

    Daniel P. Moynihan and Benign Neglect

    Not an arsonist at first glance, Daniel Patrick Moynihan burned down poor neighborhoods in cities across the country as surely as if he had doused them in kerosene and put a match to them.

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  • [Video:] David Harvey and Evgeny Morozov on Trump, neoliberalism, infrastructure, and "the sharing economy"



    On November 14, 2016 — as part of the Barcelona Initiative for Technological Sovereignty (BITS) — David Harvey sat down with Evgeny Morozov to discuss Trump's election and what it means for neoliberalism and infrastructure; as well as technologies of value extraction in contemporary cities.

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  • The Ignored Lessons of the Financial Crisis

    "If I told you eight years ago that America would reverse the great recession, reboot the auto industry, and unleash the greatest stretch of job creation in our history ... you might have said our sights were set a little too high." Thus boasted the former US president Barack Obama in his farewell address. But is the financial crisis really behind us? Has the strategy implemented to save the banks not, on the contrary, created the conditions for the next conflagration? Cédric Durandwrites.

    An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the February 2017 Le Monde diplomatique. Translated by David Broder.

    Figure 1: GDP growth in the advanced economies

    Happy anniversary! On 2 April 2007, New Century Financial Corporation entered into liquidation. The collapse of this US real estate investment company — the second biggest provider of the now-infamous subprime mortgages — fired the starting gun on a financial crisis bigger than any the world had seen since 1929. Ten years on, capitalism is still yet to recover from this major shock. Growth is sluggish, under-employment endemic and the extreme monetary policies implement by central banks are reaching their limits.

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