Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous cells

David Harvey A Brief History of Neoliberalism

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism The Crisis of Neoliberalism A Brief History of Neoliberalism The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism
  What's the Matter with Kansas      
Selected Reviews The Roads We Take Financial Quotes Financial Humor Etc

Neoliberalism -- the ideological doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action -- has become dominant in both political thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. It helped to crush communism in the USSR and largely displaced Marxism.

The shift toward neoliberalism occurred in the 1970s because businesses and the super-rich began a process of political self-organization in the early 1970s that enabled them to pool their wealth and influence to achieve dominant political power and to capture administration.  As David Swan noted in his review  (E. David Swan's review of A Brief History of Neoliberalism)

From its founding America's wealthy have feared democracy recognizing that the majority, being poor and middle class, could vote to redistribute wealth and reduce the control held by the elites. After World War II, the middle class in the United States grew dramatically somewhat flattening the countries power base. As a reaction to this dispersal of power the early 1970's saw the formation of groups like The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEO's who were `committed to an aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation'. As the author writes, `neoliberalization was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power'. T

he neoliberal plan was to dissolve all forms of social solidarity in favor of individualism, private property, personal responsibility and family values. It fell on well funded think tanks like The Heritage Foundation to sell neoliberalism to the general public using political-philosophical arguments.

Money pouring into lobbying firms, political campaigns, and ideological think tanks created the organizational muscle which mimics the Bolsheviks organizational muscle. And Repugs got a bunch of Trotskyite turncoats such as James Burnham, who knew the political technology of bolshevism from the first hands, were probably helpful in polishing this edifice. All that gave the Republicans a formidable institutional advantage since 1980s.

Carter and Clinton sold Democratic Party to the same forces.

This rise of special interests politics has been at the expense of the middle class. In this sense already in 1994 the USA became very unhealthy society although the crisis of 200 was still six years ahead. Collapse of the USSR and subsequent looting of the territory by Clinton administration slowed down this process, but now it's by-and-large over (with the USA failing to prevent reelection of Putin) and "latin-americanization" of the USA is again in full force.

There are no sizable countervailing forces on the horizon, although the level of public debt might be an implicit limiting factor for neoliberalism. It will be interesting to see how and by what political forces neoliberal regime in the USA ends. Some people suggest that the USA might eventually disintegrate along the lines of Civil War alliances. I think much depends how "peak oil" crisis unfolds. And will the wars with terrorism continue to give the USA elite the required level of the national unity and meaning. Rise of separatist movements in Texas, Alaska and other states is pretty indicative here.

There are several notable books on the subject

Dumenil and Levy

According to Dumenil and Levy the historical tendencies of capitalism are radically mediated by politics and social class configurations (i.e. alliances between social classes and stratas). They argue capitalistic development, since 1880s, has gone through four primary stages and corresponding crises. They emphasize these developments are not historically necessary, but contingent on politics and social class configurations.

The tendency of the rate of profit to fall in capitalistic economies does not work uniformly. In different periods, because politics and social class alliances can change, so can the profitability. The current crisis was only partially caused by falling rates of profits.

It is more result of self-organizing of the top 1%.  According to Dumenil and Levy the basic story goes like this: following the Great Depression of 1930 a strong social political alliance emerged between the management class and "popular classes" (this popular class includes blue and white collar workers, including quasi-management, clerical, and professional, which cannot be reduced to the traditional "working-class"). In the 1970s there was a severe profitability crisis, the legislative and institutional response to this crisis caused a fracture between management and popular classes, and a re-alliance between management and capitalist classes (which includes ownership and financial classes).

David Harvey A Brief History of Neoliberalism

David Harvey in his A Brief History of Neoliberalism  gives slightly different perspective. Here are some insightful Amazon reviews: 

R. Albin (Ann Arbor, Michigan United States), February 4, 2012

A good way to discuss this concise and clearly written book is to compare it with some recent discussions of politics and economics in the USA, notably the analysis published by the political scientists Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker in their book Winner Take All Politics. Pierson and Hacker point to the increasing concentration of wealth and political power in the USA, the decline in social mobility, the impressive ability of the very wealthy to influence Congress and elections, and how these phenomena have arisen over the past generation. Readers interested in a concise discussion of their conclusions can easily find a nice review article by Hacker and Pierson using Google Scholar or similar search services. Other recent relevant issues include the decline in American manufacturing, the increasing role of the financial services sector, and the dangerous economic fluctuations introduced by a global and relatively unregulated financial system. Harvey, however, identified and discussed all these themes insightfully several years ago.

Beyond his prescience, Harvey's particular contributions are three-fold.

Harvey also points to many of the other contradictions of neoliberalism. It is often a license for the wealthy to exploit political systems in ways that undercut its central claims. Claims that it would produce an era of enormous economic growth with a rising tide raising all boats proved groundless. Regimes purportedly espousing neoliberalism, such as the Bush II era USA, indulged in disguised and incompetently applied Keynesianism. Despite scientistic claims to be based on basic features of economics, neoliberalism often ignores basic findings of economic research.

Defects of Harvey's analysis

Defects of Harvey's analysis include a bit of overemphasis on what might be called the conspiratorial aspects of his class based analysis. Harvey also omits an important criticism of neoliberalism -- its failure to recognize the sources of long term economic growth. The latter depends on technological innovation and implementation of new and improved technologies.

Two and a half centuries after the start of the Industrial Revolution, the low hanging fruit has long been harvested and further technological change depends on substantial state investment in research, including considerable investment in development and industrial policies, and a large and well educated work force.

These preconditions for sustained growth aren't and probably will never be generated by neoliberal regimes. 

Izaak VanGaalen

A Critical Look at the Post-Keynesian Era June 15, 2006

The term neoliberalism is usually heard in the pejorative sense, often coming from Latin American leaders such as Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. The term refers to an international economic policy that has been predominant in policy-making circles and university economics departments since the 1970's. The four faces on the cover of this book (Reagan, Deng, Pinochet, and Thatcher) are considered by David Harvey the primemovers of this economic philosophy. Reagnomics, Thatcherism, Deng's capitalism with Chinese characteristics, and Pinochet's free market policies marked the beginning of new era of global capitalism.

Neoliberalism as a philosophy holds that free markets, free trade, and the free flow of capital is the most efficient way to produce the greatest social, political, and economic good. It argues for reduced taxation, reduced regulation, and minimal government involvement in the economy. This includes the privatization of health and retirement benefits, the dismantling of trade unions, and the general opening up of the economy to foreign competition. Supporters of neoliberalism present this as an ideal system. Detractors, such as Harvey, see it as a power grab by economic elites and a race to the bottom for the rest.

In this short, but very well researched book, Harvey charts the capital flows of the last thiry years. In the 1970's, there was the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, with its fixed exchange rates, tariff barriers, and capital controls. It gave way to floating currencies and high trading volumes. Capital started searching the globe for comparative advantage. Proponents claimed that this routed out corruption and inefficiencies, while opponents saw instability and exploitation. Indeed, Harvey produces ample statistics showing how the rich got richer and the poor stagnated. More surprisingly, he points out that the aggregate economic growth during the years of Keynesian management (the decades between World War II and the 1970's) was greater than during the neoliberal era (the 1970's to the present). The neoliberal era benefitted mainly the wealthy. In the US, the richest 1% now control 15% of the wealth as opposed to 8% at the end of World War II.

When Reagan and Thatcher came to power in the late 1970's and early 1980's they used their control of the IMF and World Bank to impose neoliberal policies on the developing world - especially Latin American countries. In the case of Chile, Pinochet - after violently ousting the Allende government - instituted free market policies as prescribed by the Chicago school, and was relatively successful. Other Latin American countries were not so successful, and it created a backlash of populist nationalisms in the form of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

The section on China is one of the best in the book: "Neoliberalism with Chinese Characteristics". Harvey points out that China is not a pure neoliberal state. There is still heavy state intervention in the economy and management of the currency. And as a further criticism of neoliberalism, he reminds us that China has produced some of the highest growth rates - 9 to 10 percent annually. On the downside, the gap between the rich and poor is growing, and because their currency is held artificially low they are building dangerous overcapacity.

Neither does the US, for that matter, operate according to neoliberal principles. Even as it is urging other countries to maintain minimal government and balanced budgets, it is running huge deficits and issuing ever more t-bills to cover its excess spending.

With China and the US - two linchpins in the world economy - not playing according to the rules of the game a crisis is bound to happen. One country is totally geared toward producing and exporting, while the other is content with importing, consuming, and creating more debt. Harvey believes that the global economic readjustment that is going to take place will be painful and possibly violent.

Harvey's excellent little book illustrates, once again, that the perfect market, presupposed by neoliberalism and classical liberalism, does not exist. Unfortunately, he does not offer any remedies to rectify the current situation, nor does he offer an alternative system. Nevertheless, this book is very insightful. Read more ›

11 Comments |

 E. David Swan

On the first anniversary of 9/11 President Bush made a speech saying, `Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world... as the greatest power on earth we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom.' Spreading freedom is the primary function of neoliberalization but as George Lakoff stated in `Whose Freedom?' freedom can be a very subjective term. The freedom of neoliberalism is the glory of unfettered, free market economics and the rights of corporations and financial institutions over individuals and governments. It's the freedom to fully exploit resources and workers.

From its founding America's wealthy have feared democracy recognizing that the majority, being poor and middle class, could vote to redistribute wealth and reduce the control held by the elites. After World War II, the middle class in the United States grew dramatically somewhat flattening the countries power base. As a reaction to this dispersal of power the early 1970's saw the formation of groups like The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEO's who were `committed to an aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation'. As the author writes, `neoliberalization was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power'. The neoliberal plan was to dissolve all forms of social solidarity in favor of individualism, private property, personal responsibility and family values. It fell on well funded think tanks like The Heritage Foundation to sell neoliberalism to the general public using political-philosophical arguments.

At the same time a group of economists were working on economic theories that developed into the `Washington Consensus'. These followers of Hayek and Friedman just happened to create economic blueprints for growth that matched up exactly with the goals of the wealthy business elites. The plans were based on the superiority of the marketplace in making wise decisions but also assumed perfect information and a level playing field for competition. As the author writes, `...eminent economic theorists [...] argue that all would be well with the world if only everyone behaved according to the precepts of their textbooks' The neoliberal economists have become so focused on growth that they seem to take a decidedly amoral approach to human suffering. Above all countries needed to focus on privatization and low taxes and definitely avoid deficit spending. What has happened is a widening of the gap between the wealthy and poor. The author suggests that rather than an unfortunate byproduct of neoliberalism or a temporary situation this is the intended result.

The great irony is that the U.S., the world's number one proponent of neoliberalism, generally finds itself breaking the rules. With high deficit spending and massive subsidizing particularly in consumerism and defense spending the United States has generally taken a `do as I say, not as I do' stance. With the amount of political appointee/lobbyists shuttling back and forth between business and government Adam Smith's `Invisible Hand' looks more and more like a crushing fist.

This was not the book I expected. This is a devastating critique of neoliberalism. I didn't agree with everything the author wrote and there are most definitely many positives that have come from globalization but the corporatization of the world has the potential to by an enormous threat. Global Warming has to be the poster child for neoliberal extremism with short term economic growth trumping the welfare of the entire world. David Harvey has a decidedly liberal stance but he backs up his views with sobering facts. Despite being a book on economics I found it extremely readable and recommend it wholeheartedly.


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Nov 05, 2018] Globalists The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism

Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Chosen by Pankaj Mishra as one of the Best Books of the Summer

Neoliberals hate the state. Or do they? In the first intellectual history of neoliberal globalism, Quinn Slobodian follows a group of thinkers from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire to the creation of the World Trade Organization to show that neoliberalism emerged less to shrink government and abolish regulations than to redeploy them at a global level.

Slobodian begins in Austria in the 1920s. Empires were dissolving and nationalism, socialism, and democratic self-determination threatened the stability of the global capitalist system. In response, Austrian intellectuals called for a new way of organizing the world. But they and their successors in academia and government, from such famous economists as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to influential but lesser-known figures such as Wilhelm Röpke and Michael Heilperin, did not propose a regime of laissez-faire. Rather they used states and global institutions―the League of Nations, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, and international investment law―to insulate the markets against sovereign states, political change, and turbulent democratic demands for greater equality and social justice.

Far from discarding the regulatory state, neoliberals wanted to harness it to their grand project of protecting capitalism on a global scale. It was a project, Slobodian shows, that changed the world, but that was also undermined time and again by the inequality, relentless change, and social injustice that accompanied it.

One half of a decent book May 14, 2018 Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

This is a rather interesting look at the political and economic ideas of a circle of important economists, including Hayek and von Mises, over the course of the last century. He shows rather convincingly that conventional narratives concerning their idea are wrong. That they didn't believe in a weak state, didn't believe in the laissez-faire capitalism or believe in the power of the market. That they saw mass democracy as a threat to vested economic interests.

The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state.

The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system.

The author shows how, over a period extending from the 1920s to the 1990s, these ideas evolved from marginal academic ideas to being dominant ideas internationally. Ideas that are reflected today in the structure of the European Union, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the policies of most national governments. These ideas, which the author calls "neoliberalism", have today become almost assumptions beyond challenge. And even more strangely, the dominating ideas of the political left in most of the west.

The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well.

In reading it, I started to wonder about the differences between modern neoliberalism and the liberal political movement during the industrial revolution. I really began to wonder about the actual motives of "reform" liberals in that era. Were they genuinely interested in reforms during that era or were all the reforms just cynical politics designed to enhance business power at the expense of other vested interests. Was, in particular, the liberal interest in political reform and franchise expansion a genuine move toward political democracy or simply a temporary ploy to increase their political power. If one assumes that the true principles of classic liberalism were always free trade, free migration of labor and removing the power to governments to impact business, perhaps its collapse around the time of the first world war is easier to understand.

He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe.

To me at least, the analysis of the author was rather original. In particular, he did an excellent job of showing how the ideas of Hayek and von Mises have been distorted and misunderstood in the mainstream. He was able to show what their ideas were and how they relate to contemporary problems of government and democracy.

But there are some strong negatives in the book. The author offers up a complete virtue signaling chapter to prove how the neoliberals are racists. He brings up things, like the John Birch Society, that have nothing to do with the book. He unleashes a whole lot of venom directed at American conservatives and republicans mostly set against a 1960s backdrop. He does all this in a bad purpose: to claim that the Kennedy Administration was somehow a continuation of the new deal rather than a step toward neoliberalism. His blindness and modern political partisanship extended backward into history does substantial damage to his argument in the book. He also spends an inordinate amount of time on the political issues of South Africa which also adds nothing to the argument of the book. His whole chapter on racism is an elaborate strawman all held together by Ropke. He also spends a large amount of time grinding some sort of Ax with regard to the National Review and William F. Buckley.

He keeps resorting to the simple formula of finding something racist said or written by Ropke....and then inferring that anyone who quoted or had anything to do with Ropke shared his ideas and was also a racist. The whole point of the exercise seems to be to avoid any analysis of how the democratic party (and the political left) drifted over the decades from the politics of the New Deal to neoliberal Clintonism.

Then after that, he diverts further off the path by spending many pages on the greatness of the "global south", the G77 and the New International Economic Order (NIEO) promoted by the UN in the 1970s. And whatever many faults of neoliberalism, Quinn Slobodian ends up standing for a worse set of ideas: International Price controls, economic "reparations", nationalization, international trade subsidies and a five-year plan for the world (socialist style economic planning at a global level). In attaching himself to these particular ideas, he kills his own book. The premise of the book and his argument was very strong at first. But by around p. 220, its become a throwback political tract in favor of the garbage economic and political ideas of the so-called third world circa 1974 complete with 70's style extensive quotations from "Senegalese jurists"

Once the political agenda comes out, he just can't help himself. He opens the conclusion to the book taking another cheap shot for no clear reason at William F. Buckley. He spends alot of time on the Seattle anti-WTO protests from the 1990s. But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000.

I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars.

Though it could have been far better if he had written his history of neoliberalism in the context of the counter-narrative of Keynesian economics and its decline. It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press.

[Nov 05, 2018] Neoliberalism's Demons On the Political Theology of Late Capital

Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

By both its supporters and detractors, neoliberalism is usually considered an economic policy agenda. Neoliberalism's Demons argues that it is much more than that: a complete worldview, neoliberalism presents the competitive marketplace as the model for true human flourishing. And it has enjoyed great success: from the struggle for "global competitiveness" on the world stage down to our individual practices of self-branding and social networking, neoliberalism has transformed every aspect of our shared social life. The book explores the sources of neoliberalism's remarkable success and the roots of its current decline. Neoliberalism's appeal is its promise of freedom in the form of unfettered free choice. But that freedom is a trap: we have just enough freedom to be accountable for our failings, but not enough to create genuine change. If we choose rightly, we ratify our own exploitation. And if we choose wrongly, we are consigned to the outer darkness -- and then demonized as the cause of social ills. By tracing the political and theological roots of the neoliberal concept of freedom, Adam Kotsko offers a fresh perspective, one that emphasizes the dynamics of race, gender, and sexuality. More than that, he accounts for the rise of right-wing populism, arguing that, far from breaking with the neoliberal model, it actually doubles down on neoliberalism's most destructive features.

skeptic

This book tried to integrate the results of previous research of neoliberalism by such scholars as David Harvey, Philip Mirowski, and Wendy Brown into a more coherent framework. He has some brilliant insights about neoliberalism as secular religion scattered within the book. For example "I have claimed that the political-theological root of neoliberalism is freedom and have characterized its vision of freedom as hollow." His theological notion of "neoliberalism demons" ( the dark forces unleashed by neoliberalism) also represents a very valuable insight as neoliberalism explicitly violates Christian morality postulates ("greed is good").

"Liberal democracy under neoliberalism represents a forced choice between two fundamentally similar options, betraying its promise to provide a mechanism for rational and self-reflective human agency. The market similarly mobilizes free choice only to subdue and subvert it, "responsibilizing" every individual for the outcomes of the system while radically foreclosing any form of collective responsibility for the shape of society. And any attempt to exercise human judgment and free choice over social institutions and outcomes is rejected as a step down the slippery' slope to totalitarianism. To choose in any strong sense is always necessarily to choose wrongly, to fall into sin."
In the introduction, he correctly states that the academic workforce is now deeply affected by neoliberalization.
Every academic critique of neoliberalism is an unacknowledged memoir. We academics occupy a crucial node in the neoliberal system. Our institutions are foundational to neoliberalism's claim to be a meritocracy, insofar as we are tasked with discerning and certifying the merit that leads to the most powerful and desirable jobs. Yet at the same time, colleges and universities have suffered the fate of all public goods under the neoliberal order. We must, therefore "do more with less," cutting costs while meeting ever-greater demands. The academic workforce faces increasing precarity and shrinking wages even as it is called on to teach and assess more students than ever before in human history -- and to demonstrate that we are doing so better than ever, via newly devised regimes of outcome-based assessment. In short, we academics live out the contradictions of neoliberalism every day.

The author explains his use of the term "theology" instead of "ideology in such a way: " theology' has always been about much more than God. Even the simplest theological systems have a lot to say about the world we live in, how it came to be the way it is, and how it should be. Those ideals are neither true nor false in an empirical sense, nor is it fair to say that believers accept them blindly. "

He justifies the use of this term in the following way:

Here the term theology is likely to present the primary difficulty, as it seems to presuppose some reference to God. Familiarity with political theology as it has conventionally been practiced would reinforce that association. Schmitt's Political Theology and Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies both focused on the parallels between God and the earthly ruler,3 and much subsequent work in the field has concentrated on the theological roots of political concepts of state sovereignty'. Hence the reader may justly ask whether I am claiming that neoliberalism presupposes a concept of God.

The short answer is no. I am not arguing, for example, that neoliberalism "worships" the invisible hand, the market, money, wealthy entrepreneurs, or any other supposed "false idol," nor indeed that it is somehow secretly "religious" in the sense of being fanatical and unreasoning. Such claims presuppose a strong distinction between the religious and the secular, a distinction that proved foundational for the self-legitimation of the modern secular order but that has now devolved into a stale cliché. As I will discuss in the chapters that follow, one of the things that most appeals to me about political theology as a discipline is the way that it rejects the religious/secular binary.

The author correctly point s out that "Neoliberalism likes to hide", Like Philip Mirowski he views neoliberalism as a reaction on the USSR socialism which in my view integrates much of Trotskyism. Replacing the slogan "Proletarians of all countries, unite!", with the slogan "financial elites of all countries unite."

While most authors consider that neoliberalism became the dominant political force with the election of Reagan, the author argues that it happened under Nixon: " Nixon's decision in 1971 to go off the gold standard, which broke with the Bretton Woods settlement that had governed international finance throughout the postwar era and inadvertently cleared the space for the fluctuating exchange rates that proved so central to the rise of contemporary finance capitalism. "

He contrasts approaches of Harvey, Mirowski and Brown pointing out that real origin of neoliberalism and Trotskyism style "thought collective" – intellectual vanguard that drives everybody else, often using deception to final victory of neoliberalism.

It is this group that Mirowski highlights with his notion of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. One could walk away from Harvey's account viewing the major figures of neoliberalism as dispensable figureheads for impersonal political and economic forces. By contrast, the most compact possible summary of Mirowski s book would be: "It's people! Neoliberalism is made out of people!" In this reading, there was nothing inevitable about neoliberalism's rise, which depended on the vision and organization of particular nameable individuals.

Brown portrays neoliberalism as an attempt to extinguish the political -- here represented by the liberal democratic tradition of popular sovereignty and self-rule -- and consign humanity to a purely economic existence. In the end Brown calls us to take up a strange kind of metapolitical struggle against the economic enemy, in defense of politics as such. Meanwhile, Jodi Dean, who agrees that neoliberalism has a depoliticizing tendency, argues that this depoliticization actually depends on the notion of democracy and that appeals to democracy against neoliberalism arc therefore doomed in advance.9

He also points out neoliberalism tendency to create markets using the power of the state:

"Obamacare effectively created a market in individual health insurance plans, an area where the market was previously so dysfunctional as to be essentially nonexistent. The example of Obamacare also highlights the peculiar nature of neoliberal freedom. One of its most controversial provisions was a mandate that all Americans must have health insurance coverage. From a purely libertarian perspective, this is an impermissible infringement on economic freedom -- surely if i am free to make my own economic decisions, I am also free to choose not to purchase health insurance. Yet the mandate fits perfectly with the overall ethos of neoliberalism.

Overall, then, in neoliberalism an account of human nature where economic competition is the highest value leads to a political theory where the prime duty of the state is to enable, and indeed mandate, such competition, and the result is a world wherein individuals, firms, and states are all continually constrained to express themselves via economic competition. This means that neoliberalism tends to create a world in which neoliberalism is "true." A more coherent and self-reinforcing political theology can scarcely be imagined -- but that, I will argue, is precisely what any attempt to create an alternative to neoliberalism must do.

He points out on weaknesses of Marxist analysts and by Harvey's own "recognition of the fact that classes have been profoundly changed during the process of neo-liberalization" -- meaning that the beneficiaries cannot have planned the neoliberal push in any straightforward way. More than that, an economic-reductionist account ignores the decisive role of the state in the development of the neoliberal order: "To believe that 'financial markets' one fine day eluded the grasp of politics is nothing but a fairy tale. It was states, and global economic organizations, in close collusion with private actors, that fashioned rules conducive to the expansion of market finance."'' In other words, neoliberalism is an example where, contrary to Marxism, political forces directly transform economic structures.

He also points out that Polanyi views on the subject supports this thesis:

Polanyi famously characterized the interplay between market forces and society as a "double movement": when market relations threaten to undermine the basic foundations of social reproduction, society (most often represented by state institutions) intervenes to prevent or at least delay the trend set in motion by the market. Compared with Aristotle's distribution of categories between the political and economic realms, Polanyi's account is itself a "great transformation" on the conceptual level. Where Aristotle distinguished state and household and placed both legitimate economic management and unrestrained accumulation in the latter, Polanyi's "society" combines the household and the state, leaving only out-of-control acquisition in the purely economic realm. And in this schema, the society represents the spontaneous and natural, while the economic force of the market is what is constructed and deliberate.

The legacy of Polanyi should already be familiar to us in the many analyses of neoliberalism that see the state, nationalism, and other similar forces as extrinsic "leftovers" that precede or exceed neoliberal logic. Normally such interpretations first point out the supposed irony or hypocrisy that neoliberalism comes to require these exogenous elements for its functioning while claiming that those same "leftover" institutions can be sites of resistance. Hence, for instance, one often hears that the left needs to restore confidence in state power over against the market, that socialism can only be viable if a given country isolates itself from the forces of the global market, or in Wendy Brown's more abstract terms, that the left must reclaim the political to combat the hegemony of the economic.

He makes an important point that "neoliberalism does not simply destroy some preexisting entity known as "the family," but creates its own version of the family, one that fits its political-economic agenda, just as Fordism created the white suburban nuclear family that underwrote its political-economic goals."

Following Wendy Brown he views victimization of poor as an immanent feature of neoliberalism:

"The psychic life of neoliberalism, as so memorably characterized by Mark Fisher in Capitalist Realism, is shot through with anxiety and shame. We have to be in a constant state of high alert, always "hustling" for opportunities and connections, always planning for every contingency (including the inherently unpredictable vagaries of health and longevity). This dynamic of "responsibilization," as Wendy Brown calls it, requires us to fritter away our life with worry and paperwork and supplication, "pitching"ourselves over and over again, building our "personal brand" -- all for ever-lowering wages or a smattering of piece-work, which barely covers increasingly exorbitant rent, much less student loan payments."

He also points out that under neoliberalism "Under normative neoliberalism "neoclassical economics becomes a soft constitution for government or 'governance' in its devolved forms" the point that Philip Mirowski completely misses.

While correctly pointing out that neoliberalism is in decline and its ideology collapsed after 2008 (" Neoliberalism has lost its aura of inevitability"), it is unclear which forces will dismantle neoliberalism. And when it will be sent to the dustbin of the history. The chapter of the book devoted to "After Neoliberalism" theme is much weaker than the chapters devoted to its analysis.

For example, the author thinks that Trump election signifies a new stage of neoliberalism which he calls "punitive neoliberalism." I would call Trumpism instead "national neoliberalism" with all associated historical allusions.

[Nov 05, 2018] The Limits of Neoliberalism (Theory, Culture Society) by William Davies

Notable quotes:
"... In this book, I provide a somewhat cumbersome definition of neoliberalism and a pithier one, both of which inform the argument running throughout this book. The cumbersome one is as follows: 'the elevation of marked-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms'. ..."
Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

In this book, I provide a somewhat cumbersome definition of neoliberalism and a pithier one, both of which inform the argument running throughout this book. The cumbersome one is as follows: 'the elevation of marked-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms'.

What this intends to capture is that, while neoliberal states have extended and liberated markets in certain areas (for instance, via privatisation and anti-union legislation), the neoliberal era has been marked just as much by the reform of non-market institutions, so as to render them market-like or business-like. Consider how competition is deliberately injected into socialised healthcare systems or universities. Alternatively, how protection of the environment is pursued by calculating a proxy price for natural public goods, in the expectation that businesses will then value them appropriately (Fourcade, 2011). It is economic calculation that spreads into all walks of life under neoliberalism, and not markets as such. This in turn provides the pithier version: neoliberalism is 'the disenchantment of politics by economics'.

The crisis of neoliberalism has reversed this ordering. 2008 was an implosion of technical capabilities on the part of banks and financial regulators, which was largely unaccompanied by any major political or civic eruption, at least until the consequences were felt in terms of public sector cuts that accelerated after 2010, especially in Southern Europe. The economic crisis was spookily isolated from any accompanying political crisis, at least in the beginning. The eruptions of 2016 therefore represented the long-awaited politicization and publicisation of a crisis that, until then, had been largely dealt with by the same cadre of experts whose errors had caused it in the first place.

Faced with these largely unexpected events and the threat of more, politicians and media pundits have declared that we now need to listen to those people 'left behind by globalization'. Following the Brexit referendum, in her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May made a vow to the less prosperous members of society, 'we will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful, but you.' This awakening to the demands and voices of marginalized demographics may represent a new recognition that economic policy cannot be wholly geared around the pursuit of 'national competitiveness' in the 'global race', a pursuit that in practice meant seeking to prioritise the interests of financial services and mobile capital. It signals mainstream political acceptance that inequality cannot keep rising forever. But it is still rooted in a somewhat economistic vision of politics, as if those people 'left behind by globalisation' simply want more material wealth and opportunity', plus fewer immigrants competing for jobs. What this doesn't do is engage with the distinctive political and cultural sociology of events such as Brexit and Trump, which are fuelled by a spirit of rage, punishment and self-punishment, and not simply by a desire to get a slightly larger slice of the pie.

This is where, 1 think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which 1 focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of 'competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy''.

The appeal of this as a political template for society is that, according to its advocates, it involves the discovery of brilliant ideas, more efficient business models, naturally talented individuals, new urban visions, successful national strategies, potent entrepreneurs and so on. Even if this is correct (and the work of Thomas Piketty on how wealth begets wealth is enough to cast considerable doubt on it) there is a major defect: it consigns the majority of people, places, businesses and institutions to the status of'losers'. The normative and existential conventions of a neoliberal society stipulate that success and prowess are things that are earned through desire, effort and innate ability, so long as social and economic institutions are designed in such a way as to facilitate this. But the corollary of this is that failure and weakness are also earned: when individuals and communities fail to succeed, this is a reflection of inadequate talent or energy on their part.

This has been critically noted in how 'dependency' and 'welfare' have become matters of shame since the conservative political ascendency of the 1980s. But this is just one example of how a culture of obligatory competitiveness exerts a damaging moral psychology, not only in how people look down on others, but in how they look down on themselves. A culture which valorises 'winning' and 'competitiveness' above all else provides few sources of security or comfort, even to those doing reasonably well. Everyone could be doing better, and if they're not, they have themselves to blame. The vision of society as a competitive game also suggests that anyone could very quickly be doing worse.

Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck (Davies, Montgomerie & Wallin, 2015).

In order to understand political upheavals such as Brexit, we need to perform some sociological interpretation. We need to consider that our socio-economic pathologies do not simply consist in the fact that opportunity and wealth are hoarded by certain industries (such as finance) or locales (such as London) or individuals (such as the children of the wealthy), although all of these things are true. We need also to reflect on the cultural and psychological implications of how this hoarding has been represented and justified over the past four decades, namely that it reflects something about the underlying moral worth of different populations and individuals.

One psychological effect of this is authoritarian attitudes towards social deviance: Brexit and Trump supporters both have an above-average tendency to support the death penalty, combined with a belief that political authorities are too weak to enforce justice (Kaufman, 2016). However, it is also clear that psychological and physical pain have become far more widespread in neoliberal societies than has been noticed by most people. Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long.

NEOLIBERALISM: DEAD OR ALIVE?

The question inevitably arises, is thus thing called 'neoliberalism' now over? And if not, when might it be and how would we know? In the UK, the prospect of Brexit combined with the political priority of reducing immigration means that the efficient movement of capital (together with that of labour) is being consciously impeded in a way that would have been unthinkable during the 1990s and early 2000s. 1'he re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly.

Before we reach that point, it is already possible to identify a reorientation of national economic policy making away from some core tenets of neoliberal doctrine. One of the main case studies of this book is antitrust law and policy, which has been a preoccupation for neoliberal intellectuals, reformers and lawyers ever since the 1930s. The rise of the Chicago School view of competition (which effectively granted far greater legal rights to monopolists, while also being tougher on cartels) in the American legal establishment from the 1970s onwards, later repeated in the European Commission, meant that market commitments to neoliberal policy goals is still less than likely. Free trade areas such as NAETA, policies designed to attract and please mobile capital, the search for global hegemony surrounding international markets (as opposed to naked, mercantilist self-interest) may then continue for a few more years. But the collapse of legitimacy or popularity of these agendas will not be reversed.

Meanwhile, the inability of the Republican Party to defend these policies any longer signals the ultimate divorce between the political and economic wings of neoliberalism: the conservative coalition that came into being as Keynesianism declined post-1968, and which got Ronald Reagan to power, no longer functions in its role of rationalising and de-politicising economic policy making. If neoliberalism is the 'disenchantment of politics by economics', then economics is no longer performing its role in rationalising public life. Politics is being re-enchanted, by images of nationhood, of cultural tradition, of'friends' against enemies, ot race ana religion, une ot me many political miscalculations mat lea to Brexit was to under-estimate how many UK citizens would vote for the first time in their lives, enthralled by the sudden sovereign power that they had been granted in the polling booth, which was entirely unlike the ritual of representative democracy with a first-past-the-post voting system that renders most votes irrelevant. The intoxication of popular power and of demagoguery is being experienced in visceral ways for the first time since 1968, or possibly longer. Wendy Brown argues that neoliberalism is a 'political rationality'' that was born in direct response to Fascism during the 1930s and '40s (Brown, 2015). While it would be an exaggeration to say that the end of neoliberalism represents the re-birth of Fascism, clearly there were a number of existential dimensions of'the political' that the neoliberals were right to fear, and which we should now fear once more.

While there is plenty of evidence to suggest that 2016 is a historic turning point indeed as I've argued here, possibly the second 'book-mark' in the crisis of neoliberalism we need also to recognise how the seeds of this recent political rupture were sown over time. Indeed, we can learn a lot about policy paradigms from the way they' go into decline, for they always contain, tolerate and even celebrate the very activities that later overwhelm or undermine them. Clearly, the 2008 financial crisis was triggered by activities in the banking sector that were not fundamentally different from those which had been viewed as laudable for the previous 20 years. Equally, as we witness the return of mercantilism, protectionism, nationalism and charismatic populism, we need to remember the extent to which neoliberalism accommodated some of this, up to a point.

The second major case study in this book, in addition to anti-trust policy, is of strategies for 'national competitiveness'. The executive branch of government has traditionally been viewed as a problem from the perspective of economic liberalism, seeing as powerful politicians will instinctively seek to privilege their own territories vis-a-vis others. This is the threat of mercantilism, which can spin into resolutely anti-liberal policies such as trade tariffs and the subsidisation of indigenous industries and 'national champions'. These forms of mercantilism may now be returning, however, the logic of neoliberalism was never quite as antipathetic to them as orthodox market liberals might have been. Instead, I suggest in Chapter 4, rather than simply seek to thwart or transcend nationalist politics, neoliberalism seizes and reimagines the nation as one competitive actor amongst many, in a global contest for 'competitiveness', as evaluated by business gurus such as Michael Porter and think tanks such as the World Economic Eorum. To be sure, these gurus and think tanks have never been anything but hostile to protectionism; but nevertheless, they have encouraged a form of mild nationalism as the basis for strategic thinking in economic policy. As David Harvey has argued, 'the neoliberal state needs nationalism of a certain sort to survive': it draws on aspects of executive power and nationalist sentiment, in order to steer economic activity towards certain types of competitive strategies, culture and behaviours and away from others (Harvey, 2005: 85).

There is therefore a deep-lying tension within the politics of neoliberalism between a 'liberal' logic, which seeks to transcend geography, culture and political difference, and a more contingent, 'violent' logic that seeks to draw on the energies of nationhood and combat, in the hope of diverting them towards competitive, entrepreneurial production. These two logics are in conflict with each other, but the story I tell in this book is of how the latter gradually won out over the long history of neoliberal thought and policy making. Where the neoliberal intellectuals of the 1930s had a deep commitment to liberal ideals, which they believed the market could protect, the rise of the post-war Chicago School of economics and the co-option of neoliberal ideas by business lobbies and conservatives, meant that (what 1 term) the 'liberal spirit' was gradually lost. There is thus a continuity at work here, in the way that the crisis of neoliberalism has played out.

Written in 2012-13, the book suggests that neoliberalism has now entered a 'contingent' state, in which various failures of economic rationality are dealt with through incorporating an ever broader range of cultural and political resources. The rise of behavioural economics, for example, represents an attempt to preserve a form of market rationality in the face of crisis, by incorporating expertise provided by psychologists and neuroscientists. A form of 'neo-communitarianism' emerges, which takes seriously the role of relationships, environmental conditioning and empathy in the construction of independent, responsible subjects. This remains an economistic logic, inasmuch as it prepares people to live efficient, productive, competitive lives. But by bringing culture, community and contingency within the bounds of neoliberal rationality, one might see things like behavioural economics or 'social neuroscience' and so on as early symptoms of a genuinely post-liberal politics. Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Kudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'.

The Limits of Neoliberalism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone. For similar reasons, we might soon find that we miss some of the normative and political dimensions of neoliberalism, for example the internationalism that the IiU was founded to promote and the cosmopolitanism that competitive markets sometimes inculcate. There may be some elements of neoliberalism that critics and activists need to grasp, refashion and defend, rather than to simply denounce: this book's Afterword offers some ideas of what this might mean. But if the book is to be read in a truly post-neoliberal world, 1 hope that in its Interpretive aspirations, it helps to explain what was internally and normalively coherent about the political economy known as 'neoliberalism', but also why the system really had no account of its own preconditions or how to preserve them adequately. The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'.

... ... ...

Most analyses of neoliberalism have focused on its commitment to 'free markets, deregulation and trade. I shan't discuss the validity of these portrayals here, although some have undoubtedly exaggerated the similarities between 'classical' nineteenth-century liberalism and twentieth-century neoliberalism. The topic addressed here is a different one the character of neoliberal authority, on what basis does the neoliberal state demand the right to be obeyed, if not on substantive political grounds? To a large extent, it is on the basis of particular economic claims and rationalities, constructed and propagated by economic experts. The state does not necessarily (or at least, not always) cede power to markets, but comes to justify its decisions, policies and rules in terms that are commensurable with the logic of markets. Neoliberalism might therefore be defined as the elevation of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms (Davies, 2013: 37). The authority of the neoliberal state is heavily dependent on the authority of economics (and economists) to dictate legitimate courses of action. Understanding that authority and its present crisis requires us to look at economics, economic policy experts and advisors as critical components of state institutions.

Since the banking crisis of 2007-09, public denunciations of 'inequality' have increased markedly. These draw on a diverse range of moral, critical, theoretical, methodological and empirical resources. Marxist analyses have highlighted growing inequalities as a symptom of class conflict, which neoliberal policies have greatly exacerbated (Harvey, 2011; Therborn, 2012). Statistical analyses have highlighted correlations between different spheres of inequality', demonstrating how economic inequality influences social and psychological wellbeing (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009). Data showing extreme concentrations of wealth have led political scientists to examine the US political system, as a tool through which inequality is actively increased (Hacker & Pierson, 2010). Emergent social movements, such as Occupy, draw a political dividing line between the '99%' and the '1%' who exploit them. Political leaders and public intellectuals have adopted the language of'fairness' in their efforts to justify and criticize the various policy interventions which influence the distribution of economic goods (e.g. Hutton, 2010).

It is important to recognize that these critiques have two quite separate targets, although the distinction is often blurred. Firstly, there is inequality that exists within reasonably delineated and separate spheres of society. This means that there are multiple inequalities, with multiple, potentially incommensurable measures. The inequality that occurs within the market sphere is separate from the inequality that occurs within the cultural sphere, which is separate from the inequality' that occurs within the political sphere, and so on. Each sphere can either unwelcome politically, or impractical (Davies, 2013). Hayek's support for the welfare state, Simons' commitment to the nationalization of key industries, the ordo-liberal enthusiasm for the 'social market' demonstrate that the early neoliberals were offering a justification for what Walzer terms 'monopoly' (separate inequalities in separate spheres) and not 'dominance' (the power of one sphere over all others).

As the next chapter explores, it was Coasian economics (in tandem with the Chicago School) that altered this profoundly. The objective perspective of the economist implicitly working for a university or state regulator would provide the common standard against which activity could be judged. Of course economics does not replace the price system, indeed economics is very often entangled with the price system (Callon, 1998; Caliskan, 2010), but the a priori equality of competitors becomes presumed, as a matter of economic methodology, which stipulates that all agents are endowed with equal psychological capacities of calculation. It is because this assumption is maintained when evaluating all institutions and actions that it massively broadens the terrain of legitimate competition, and opens up vast, new possibilities for legitimate inequality and legitimate restraint. Walzerian dominance is sanctioned, and not simply monopoly. The Coasian vision of fair competition rests on an entirely unrealistic premise, namely that individuals share a common capacity' to calculate and negotiate, rendering intervention by public authorities typically unnecessary: the social reality of lawyers' fees is alone enough to undermine this fantasy. Yet in one sense, this is a mode of economic critique that is imbued with the 'liberal spirit' described earlier. It seeks to evaluate the efficiency of activities, on the basis of the assumed equal rationality of all, and the neutrality of the empirical observer.

Like Coase, Schumpeter facilitates a great expansion of the space and time in which the competitive process takes place. Various 'social' and 'cultural' resources become drawn into the domain of competition, with the goal being to define the rules that all others must play by. Monopoly is undoubtedly the goal of competitiveness. But unlike Coase's economics, Schumpeter's makes no methodological assumption regarding the common rationality' of all actors. Instead, it makes a romantic assumption regarding the inventive power of some actors (entrepreneurs), and the restrictive routines of most others. Any objective judgements regarding valid or invalid actions will be rooted in static methodologies or rules. Entrepreneurs have no rules, and respect no restraint. They seek no authority or validation for what they do, but are driven by a pure desire to dominate. In this sense their own immanent authority comes with a 'violent threat', which is endorsed by the neoliberal state as Chapter 4 discusses.

These theories of competition are not 'ideological' and nor are they secretive. They are not ideological because they do not seek to disguise how reality is actually constituted or to distract people from their objective conditions. They have contributed to the construction and constitution of economic reality, inasmuch as they provide objective and acceptable reports on what is going on, that succeed in coordinating various actors. Moreover, they are sometimes performative, not least because of how they inform and format modes of policy, regulation and governance. Inequality has not arisen by accident or due to the chaos of capitalism or 'globalization'. Theories and methodologies, which validate certain types of dominating and monopolistic activity, have provided the conventions within which large numbers of academics, business people and policy makers have operated. They make a shared world possible in the first place. But nor are any of these theories secret either. They have been published in peer-reviewed journals, spread via policy papers and universities. Without shared, public rationalities and methodologies, neoliberalism would have remained a private conspiracy. Inequality can be denounced by critics of neoliberalism, but it cannot be argued that in an era that privileges not only market competition but competitiveness in general inequality is not publicly acceptable.

These theories of competition are not 'ideological' and nor are they secretive. They are not ideological because they do not seek to disguise how reality is actually constituted or to distract people from their objective conditions. They have contributed to the construction and constitution of economic reality, inasmuch as they provide objective and acceptable reports on what is going on, that succeed in coordinating various actors. Moreover, they are sometimes performative, not least because of how they inform and format modes of policy, regulation and governance. Inequality has not arisen by accident or due to the chaos of capitalism or 'globalization'. Theories and methodologies, which validate certain types of dominating and monopolistic activity, have provided the conventions within which large numbers of academics, business people and policy makers have operated. They make a shared world possible in the first place. But nor are any of these theories secret either. They have been published in peer-reviewed journals, spread via policy papers and universities. Without shared, public rationalities and methodologies, neoliberalism would have remained a private conspiracy. Inequality can be denounced by critics of neoliberalism, but it cannot be argued that in an era that privileges not only market competition but competitiveness in general inequality is not publicly acceptable.

The contingent neoliberalism that we currently live with is in a literal sense unjustified. It is propagated without the forms of justification (be they moral or empirical) that either the early neoliberals or the technical practitioners of neoliberal policy had employed, in order to produce a reality that 'holds together', as pragmatist sociologists like to say. The economized social and political reality now only just about 'holds together', because it is constantly propped up, bailed out, nudged, monitored, adjusted, data-mincd, and altered by those responsible for rescuing it. It does not survive as a consensual reality: economic judgements regarding 'what is going on' are no longer 'objective' or 'neutral', to the extent that they once were. The justice of inequality can no longer be explained with reference to a competition or to competitiveness, let alone to a market. Thus, power may be exercised along the very same tramlines that it was during the golden neoliberal years of the 1990s and early millennium, and the same experts, policies and agencies may continue to speak to the same public audiences. But the sudden reappearance of those two unruly uneconomic actors, the Hobbesian sovereign state and the psychological unconscious, suggests that that the project of disenchanting politics by economics has reached its limit. And yet crisis and critique have been strategically deferred or accommodated. What resources are there available for this to change, and to what extent are these distinguishable from neoliberalism's own critical capacities?

... ... ...

Neoliberalism, as this book has sought to demonstrate, is replete with its own internal modes of criticism, judgement, measurement and evaluation, which enable actors to reach agreements about what is going on. These are especially provided by certain traditions of economics and business strategy, which privilege competitive processes, on the basis that those processes are uniquely able to preserve an element of uncertainty in social and economic life. The role of the expert be it in the state, the think tank or university within this programme is to produce quantitative facts about the current state of competitive reality, such that actors, firms or whole nations can be judged, compared and ranked. For Hayek and many of the early neoliberals, markets would do this job instead of expert authorities, with prices the only facts that were entirely necessary. But increasingly, under the influence of the later Chicago School and business strategists, the 'winners' and the 'losers' were to be judged through the evaluations of economics (and associated techniques and measures), rather than of markets as such. Certain forms of authority are therefore necessary for this game' to be playable. Economized law is used to test the validity of certain forms of competitive conduct; audits derived from business strategy are used to test and enthuse the entrepreneurial energies of rival communities. But the neoliberal programme initially operated such that these forms of authority could be exercised in a primarily technical sense, without metaphysical appeals to the common good, individual autonomy or the sovereignty of the state that employed them. As the previous chapter argued, various crises (primarily, but not exclusively, the 2007-09 financial crisis) have exposed neoliberalism's tacit dependence on both executive sovereignty and on certain moral-psychological equipment on the part of individuals. A close reading of neoliberal texts and policies would have exposed this anyway. In which case, the recent 'discovery' that neoliberalism depends on and justifies power inequalities, and not markets as such, may be superficial in nature. Witnessing the exceptional measures that states have taken to rescue the status quo simply confirms the state-centric nature of neolibcralism, as an anti-political mode of politics. As Zizek argued in relation to the Wikileaks' exposures of 2011, 'the real disturbance was at the level of appearances: we can no longer pretend we don't know what everyone knows we know' (Zizek, 2011b). Most dramatically, neoliberalism now appears naked and shorn of any pretence to liberalism, that is, it no longer operates with manifest a priori principles of equivalence, against which all contestants should be judged. Chapter 2 identified the 'liberal spirit' of neoliberalism with a Rawlsian assumption that contestants are formally equal before they enter the economic 'game'. Within the Kantian or 'deontological' tradition of liberalism, this is the critical issue, and it played a part in internal debates within the early neoliberal movement. For those such as the ordoliberals, who feared the rationalizing potential of capitalist monopoly, the task was to build an economy around such an a priori liberal logic. Ensuring some equality of access to the economic game', via the active regulation of large firms and 'equality of opportunity' for individuals, is how neoliberalism's liberalism has most commonly been presented politically. As Chapter 3 discussed, the American tradition of neoliberalism as manifest in Chicago Law and Economics abandoned this sort of normative liberalism, in favour of a Benthamite utilitarianism, in which efficiency claims trumped formal arguments. The philosophical and normative elements of neoliberalism have, in truth, been in decline since the 1950s.

The 'liberal spirit' of neoliberalism was kept faintly alive by the authority that was bestowed upon methodologies, audits and measures of efficiency analysis. The liberal a priori just about survived in the purported neutrality of economic method (of various forms), to judge all contestants equally, even while the empirical results of these judgements have increasingly benefited alreadydominant competitors. This notion relied on a fundamental epistemological inconsistency of neoliberalism, between the Hayekian argument that there can be no stable or objective scientific perspective on economic activity, and the more positivist argument that economics offers a final and definitive judgement. American neoliberalism broadens the 'arena' in which competition is understood to take place, beyond definable markets, and beyond the sphere of the 'economy', enabling cultural, social and political resources to be legitimately dragged into the economic 'game', and a clustering of various forms of advantage in the same hands. Monopoly, in Walter's terms, becomes translated into dominance.

The loss of neoliberalisms pretence to liberalism transforms the type of authority that can be claimed by and on behalf of power, be it business, financial or state power. It means the abandonment of the globalizing, universalizing, transcendental branch of neoliberalism, in which certain economic techniques and measures (including, but not only, prices) would provide a common framework through which all human difference could be mediated and represented. Instead, cultural and national difference potentially leading to conflict now animates neoliberalism, but without a commonly recognized principle against which to convert this into competitive inequality. What I have characterized as the 'violent threat' of neoliberalism has come to the fore, whereby authority in economic decision making is increasingly predicated upon the claim that 'we' must beat 'them'. This fracturing of universalism, in favour of political and cultural particularism, may be a symptom of how capitalist crises often play out (Gamble, 2009). One reason why neoliberalism has survived as well as it has since 2007 is that it has always managed to operate within two rhetorical registers simultaneously, satisfying both the demand for liberal universalism and that for political particularism, so when the former falls apart, a neoliberal discourse of competitive nationalism and the authority of executive decision is already present and available.

One lesson to be taken from neoliberalism, for political movements which seek to challenge it, is that both individual agency and collective institutions need to be criticized and invented simultaneously. Political reform does not have to build on any 'natural' account of human beings, but can also invent new visions of individual agency. The design and transformation of institutions, such as markets, regulators and firms, do not need to take place separately from this project, but in tandem and in dialogue with it. A productive focus of critical economic enquiry would be those institutions which neolibcral thought has tended to be entirely silent on. These are the institutions and mechanisms of capitalism which coerce and coordinate individuals, thereby removing choices from economic situations. The era of applied neoliberal policy making has recently started to appear as one of rampant 'financialisation' (Krippner, 2012). So it is therefore peculiar how little attention is paid within neoliberal discourse to institutions of credit and equity, other than that they should be priced and distributed via markets. Likewise, the rising power of corporations has been sanctioned by theories that actually say very little about firms, management, work or organization, but focus all their attention on the incentives and choices confronting a few 'agents' and 'leaders' at the very top. Despite having permeated our cultural lives with visions of competition, and also permeated political institutions with certain economic rationalities, the dominant discourse of neoliberalism actually contains very little which represents the day-to-day lives and experiences of those who live with it. This represents a major empirical and analytical shortcoming of the economic theories that are at work in governing us, and ultimately a serious vulnerability.

A further lesson to be taken from neoliberalism, for the purposes of a critique of neoliberalism, is that restrictive economic practices need to be strategically and inventively targeted and replaced. In the 1930s and 1940s, 'restrictive economic practices' would have implied planning, labour organization and socialism. Today our economic freedoms are restricted in very different ways, which strike at the individual in an intimate way, rather than at individuals collectively. In the twenty-first century, the experience of being an employee or a consumer or a debtor is often one of being ensnared, not one of exercising any choice or strategy. Amidst all of the uncertainty of dynamic capitalism, this sense of being trapped into certain relations seems eminently certain. Releasing individuals from these constraints is a constructive project, as much as a critical one: this is what the example of the early neoliberals demonstrates.

Lawyers willing to rewrite the rules of exchange, employment and finance (as, for instance the ordo-liberals redrafted the rules of the market) could be one of the great forces for social progress, if they were ever to mobilize in a concerted w'ay. A form of collective entrepreneurship, which like individual entrepreneurs saw' economic nonnativity as fluid and changeable, could produce new forms of political economy, with alternative valuation systems.

The reorganization of state, society, institutions and individuals in terms of competitive dynamics and rules, succeeded to the extent that it did because it offered both a vision of the collective and a vision of individual agency simultaneously. It can appear impermeable to critique or political transformation, if only challenged on one of these terms. For instance, if a different vision of collective organization is proposed, the neoliberal rejoinder is that this must involve abandoning individual 'choice' or freedom. Or if a different vision of the individual is proposed, the neoliberal rejoinder is that this is unrealistic given the competitive global context. Dispensing with competition, as the template for all politics and political metaphysics, is therefore only possible if theory proceeds anew, with a political-economic idea of individual agency and collective organization, at the same time. What this might allow is a different basis from which to speak of human beings as paradoxically the same yet different. The problem of politics is that individuals are both private, isolated actors, with tastes and choices, and part of a collectivity, with rules and authorities. An alternative answer to this riddle needs to be identified, other than simply more competition and more competitiveness, in which isolated actors take no responsibility for the collective, and the collective is immune to the protestations of those isolated actors.

A Theory of Global Capitalism Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World (Themes in Global Social Change) William

(Roland Robertson, University of Aberdeen)

The leading analyst of transnational class formation provides a clear, straightforward, and convincing account of the economic, political, and social contours of contemporary capitalism. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the global condition and prospects for its amelioration.

(Craig N. Murphy, M. Margaret Ball Professor of International Relations, Wellesley College, and Chair, Academic Council on the United Nations System)

Yet another book on globalization? If you think you have read too many already, think again! Here is a fresh look at the subject which shatters the illusion that globalization has to do with either free international trade or the disappearance of the state. Robinson expertly gathers the diverse threads that run through our world order and unerringly hones in on class and transnational power at the heart of it.

(Ankie Hoogvelt, University of Sheffield)

Review

"William I. Robinson has earned a reputation as one of the leading critical analysts of capitalist globalization as a system of power. This book -- both rigorous and readable -- develops his thesis that we are witnessing a world-historical transition into a new phase of capitalism, with new forms of power, resistance and struggle. Whether or not you agree with Robinson's controversial thesis, you will agree that this book represents formidable scholarship and raises crucial political questions for the twenty-first century." -- Mark Rupert, Syracuse University

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Summer Gray

A correct formulation of the problem... October 7, 2008

The final chapter of Robinson's book opens with important words once written by Karl Marx: "The correct formulation of the problem already indicates its solution." Robinson's paradigm-shifting articulation of the problem of global capitalism as a hegemonic transnational phenomenon calls for a transnational counter-hegemonic response -- a solution that is imaginatively new, materially realizable, and desperately needed.

There is much to praise in this work, particularly in its move to transcend outdated frameworks and epistemological standards to arrive a problem that spells out possible solutions. By deconstructing the role of the nation-state in the global economy and pointing to the significance of transnational production and the rise of a transnational class and the transnational state, Robinson opens up the door and lets class, agency and culture back into the room.

I have engaged with a variety of critical literature that has sought to place the disempowered at the center of analysis in order to legitimize the voice of the "other." While I still believe that this kind of work is important, I have been frustrated with its tendency to fragment struggles by arriving at an array of different problems and respective solutions due to a lack of agreement on the most appropriate unit of analysis. As a critical theorist, Robinson avoids this by critiquing nation-state-centrism and tracing class relations to the material world. He argues that the globalist bloc

"achieved hegemony in the last twentieth century because it came to exercise a commanding influence over material life around the world, including the ability to provide rewards and impose sanctions, and because it achieved an ideological dominance by developing both an alternative ideology and a viable alternative program to global capitalism" (174).

This book has major insights for anyone critical of the world in which they live. I approached this book critically, weary of another `big picture' grand narrative story, and finished with a heightened sense of awareness about the world in which I live. Don't be intimidated by the word 'theory' in the title. This book is for everyone.

One last note: While I was reading Robinson's book, I was reminded of a documentary called Mickey Mouse Monopoly -- a film that takes a critical look at the Disney Company's role in shaping global culture through its enormous corporate power (you can watch the entire documentary in ten minute sections on youtube.com).

Robinson correctly emphasizes the importance of culture in his book, noting how such cultural icons as Coca Cola, Mickey Mouse, Big Macs, and Nike are "symbolic of the real material domination of TNCs" (31). As Robinson further notes "the ownership and merger of media worldwide is a major area of transnationalization...and their tight control over the worldwide flow of information and images are issues of cultural domination" (129). The Disney Corporation is an example of a transnational corporation participating in a larger global capitalist hegemonic project, and demonstrates careful attention to policing its image and representation. In the documentary the narrator describes Disney as "a transnational media conglomerate owning TV and radio networks, cable systems, internet sites, music studios, media production companies, magazines, sports teams, theaters and theme parks." The narrator continues to raise questions of democracy and Disney's tendency to present a "very limited world view skewed and dominated by corporate interests."

The documentary ends with a revealing quote from Disney's own Michael Eisner in an internal memo: "we have no obligation to make history, we have no obligation to make art, we have no obligation to make a statement, to make money is our only objective."

Dr. Gail Dines, professor of Women's Studies at Wheelock College, poses the following concerns:

"What kind of society do we want to live in? Do we want to live in a society were seven global corporations control our culture? At the moment the only people at the table are the holders of corporate power. That's not a democracy."

So, what kind of society do you want to live in? Read Robinson's book and let's talk.

useful contribution to Marxist theories of international relations April 23, 2012

By M. A. Krul

Although the author is William I. Robinson, who teaches sociology and IR at UC Santa Barbara, this book is the very opposite of a Robinsonade - in fact, it deals with the global convergence of the capitalist class and its interests. Robinson's thesis in this book is that rather than conceiving of globalization as increasing internationalization, i.e. increasing trade and political connections between nation-states and proceeding from that political level, it should instead be understood as an increasing transnationalization. In other words, it means that there is now a secular tendency for the formation of a global, transnational capitalist class, which operates on the basis of the interests of global capital and increasingly forms a transnational state apparatus (from UN to WTO to IMF) to exercise its power. This global capitalist class is in opposition to the old national bourgeoisies, which are ever more succumbing to this struggle, and dominates global production in terms of volume - as Robinson aptly demonstrates with some choice statistics from the 1990s (surely even more true now). This global capitalist class has not made the nation-states obsolete, but restructures their organizations and institutions of power according to its needs and tries to pave the way for the total domination of this class over all state power by programmes of austerity, privatization, 'structural adjustment', and so forth. In other words, according to Robinson, the neoliberal order is the political mode of appearance of the interests of the global capitalist class.

So far, so good. Much of this is plausibly argued, and the author makes a number of valuable points. First is the importance of seeing the current transformation of capitalism not as a struggle between nations, such as the US and China, at the fundamental level, but rather as the rise to hegemony of the global capitalist class. Its opponents are those capitals that have purely national or regional interests to maintain specifically against the interests of the global capitalist class, and of course the proletariats of the world, which are (if much more slowly) also globalizing. Second, that it is in the interests of the global capitalist class to maximize the mobility of capital, but to minimize the corresponding mobility of labor, insofar as this would allow the development of a global proletarian opposition. The forces of globalization require ever more social containment on the part precisely of the territorial state powers, in order to prevent the Polanyian counter-movement from appearing (my words, not his).

Finally, this has only been possible because every part of the globe has now been formally subsumed under the capitalist order; there is no extensive form of 'original accumulation' possible any more on any serious scale. Robinson argues that therefore the global capitalist class' main interest in international relations is to overcome the opposition not just of the various working classes, but also of the national capitals that stand in the way; and that it seeks to supplant these by introducing everywhere 'polyarchy', i.e. the hollow form of 'liberal democracy' that channels civil society and oppositional forces into the periodic election of one or another branch of the elite. He implies it is precisely the status of petty dictators and the like as representatives of the interests purely of their national capitals and their nation-state territorial position that makes them undesirable in the eyes of the global capitalist class, however willing they may be to trade with them if they have to. This would then explain the neo-imperialist adventurist turn of many of the richer countries, including many not previously participants in such undertakings.

There are some problems with the argument nonetheless. Firstly, Robinson's economic historical explanation as well as his crisis theory are somewhat shoddy and in many cases questionable. For example, as Marx himself already pointed out, to explain a crisis by stating that there is overproduction and underconsumption is to explain precisely nothing - that is how a crisis appears under capitalism. Similarly, his reading of the social-democratic consensus is surely too rosy. It is not likely that neoliberalism appeared solely as a way for globalizing capital to escape the clutches of this consensus; the consensus itself was deeply limited in scope and intensity to certain parts of Europe and the Anglo-American countries, and it was two rapid crises that brought it down at least as much as its success.

This also fits Robinson's main weakness in the otherwise excellent and essential global outlook on political economy - namely, a serious understatement of the significance of previous imperialism and the contradiction between the First and the Third World, so-called. I agree that there is a long-term secular tendency now towards the creation of an 'equalized' global proletariat and Robinson is certainly right against Arrighi c.s. that this tendency is a victory of global capitalism rather than of East Asian capitalism. Yet this does not mean that we are yet anywhere near this situation of equalization, and precisely the distinction in existing wealth creates strong counter-globalizing forces including among the Western working classes, who have much to lose by this turn of events. By all accounts, they would prefer returning to the rosy social-democratic consensus based on the post-imperial dominance of the West, and for this reason the response to globalizing capital has been explicitly right-wing, not left-wing. Robinson is too optimistic, or too naive, when he implies that the (white) working class of the US or Europe is close to an objective or subjective position of being in the same predicament as the workers of Mexico or the Philippines. They are moving there, but are doing everything they can to prevent it, at the expense of the global proletariat as much as anything.

That said, this book is an important contribution at the political and strategic level to a truly global understanding of capitalist processes in the postwar period and today. So far, much of the initiative in this has proceeded solely from Maoist or post-Maoist sources and authors like Samir Amin. It is good to see this trend being more widely followed, and the significance of this perspective being increasingly appreciated among Marxists more widely. We cannot leave world system thinking to the followers of Frank and Arrighi, great as their contributions have been; let alone such people as Niall Ferguson or Joseph Stiglitz. "A Theory of Global Capitalism" should help put us on the right path.

William I. Robinson`s Invaluable Theory of Global Capitalism., July 7, 2013
By Colin Burgess - See all my reviewsAmazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World (Themes in Global Social Change) (Paperback)
I gave William Robinson`s book a five star rating because he has provided me with a theoretical structure which fits the last two chapters of my book. I say "fits" because the concepts he uses are in many cases the same as mine but from a transnational viewpoint rather than a national one. Consequently I have learnt a lot by bringing the two perspectives together. In this way Robinson is more basic than Sklair, whose work I can also use in bringing together the work of many other empirical and theoretical writers. Whether this is of any interest or use to anyone else I don`t know, but this is how it is helpful to me.

Zombie Capitalism Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx Chris Harman 9781608461042 Amazon.com Books

Diziet

The Runaway System, March 1, 2011

Chris Harman's 'Zombie Capitalism' is a closely argued, fully referenced and indexed indictment of Capitalism from it's inception in the late 18th century up to today's current crises.

It starts with a general but detailed round up of Marx's concepts: commodities, labour value, surplus value etc. There then follows a comparison of Marx's ideas with those of his critics - neoclassical, Keynsian and Marxist variations.

Once this grounding is complete, and he has demonstrated the appropriateness of using Marx's analytical tools, he moves on to a discussion of how Capitalism works. This is a fairly generalised approach but lays the foundations for later chapters.

Once these basics are out of the way, Harman moves on to consider how Capitalism has developed since Marx's time and whether Capitalism has moved beyond useful Marxist analysis. He shows, pretty convincingly to my mind, that it has not and that a Marxist approach can still shed considerable light on the workings of the system.

Following on from that, he considers the role of the state. It is clear that states are deeply involved in not just maintaining Capitalism but as active participants. Even in these days of international or transnational corporations, Harman shows how rooted 'capitals' are in the nation state. In this, he echoes Alex Callinicos. Suggestions that nation states have outlived their usefulness are clearly false. However, the state is not simply a provider of currencies, rules, regulations, copyright protection, worker maintenance etc. but is also an active participant in the Capitalist enterprise. Apart from the obvious State Capitalism (in a Keynsian sense), there are the examples of Stalinist Russia and modern China.

The history of Capitalism in the 20th century inevitable starts with the Great Depression of 1929. This is followed by the long boom of the post-World War 2 period (the 'Golden Age'). Harman shows how this was maintained not simply by the recovery from the 'creative destruction' of the war, but also by the 'disposing' of surplus capital in the purchase of arms - Eisenhower's 'military-industrial' complex - helping to maintain rates of profit. But he goes further and considers the effects of this on Russia and the Eastern Block countries.

Then comes the end of the 'Golden Age', the crisis of Keynsianism and the turn to Milton Friedman and Monetarism. Of course, a lot of this is simple history. But Harman provides a thoroughgoing and, to my mind, pretty convincing Marxist analysis of this history. He considers not just the crisis of the Western capitalist economies but also the end of Stalinist central planning.

Part Three starts with 'The New Age of Global Instability' (P227). He suggests that, in many ways, the current era is a return to the period prior to the Second World War - in a sense, back to 'business as usual' (i.e boom/slump). He argues against the prevailing 'globalist' theories, again pointing out the dependence of capitals on nation states - it is simply not that easy to move factories and their necessary supply chains across borders. However, he recognises the increasing mobility of financial capital, as it roams the world, looking for a return on investment but, at the same time, shows the many ways that 'productive capital' and financial capital are closely intertwined. For example, he considers the bubble in the telecoms industry which resulted in a huge increase in cable networks - far more than can currently conceivably be used.

The final section 'The Runaway System' (P307) looks at the likely consequences of the current form of Capitalism and, predictably enough, it is not a happy picture. Environmental degradation, 'Peak Oil', the dangers to the world's food supply are all resulting in a runaway system:

'The runaway world is, in fact, the economic system as Marx described it, the Frankenstein's monster that has escaped from human control; the vampire that saps the lifeblood of the living bodies it feeds off. Its self-expansion has indeed led it to encompass the whole globe, drawing all of humanity into its cycles of competing in order to accumulate and accumulating in order to compete.' (P325)

Capitalism is, quite simply, insatiable.

And finally, he asks, 'Who can overcome?' (P329):

'It is the very development of capitalism that shapes and reshapes the lives of those it exploits, creating the objective circumstances that can turn a disparate mass of people who sell their labour power into an increasingly self-conscious class "for itself". This class is the potential agent for challenging the chaotic and destructive dynamic of capitalism because capitalism cannot do without it.' (P349)

Overall, this is a fascinating book. I have to admit that I found the first few sections of Marxist economics hard going, not having any background in the subject, but once equipped with the basic concepts involved, the analyses presented in the later sections were powerful and persuasive.

[Jun 06, 2013] The Crisis of Neoliberalism Gérard Duménil, Dominique Lévy

Amazon.com

Hans G. Despain

Unique and Stimulating Account of the Great Financial Recession of 2008 June 6, 2012

This book can be highly recommended as a book on the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, and a book of politics, political economy, class analysis, sociology, and history. Very impressive accomplishment.

The strength of this book on the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 is that Dumenil and Levy place the crisis in a larger historical perspective. They maintain it is a mistake to isolate it merely in the context of the financial innovation and deregulation occurring from the late 1990s. Instead, capitalism has particular historical tendencies and specific class relations.

This is a very impressive volume published by Harvard University Press. It offers a play by play of the Great Financial Recession of 2008, beginning from 2000 in chapters 12 - 17, the political response and the continued stagnation in domestic economies and instability within the international economic order in chapters 18 - 20, along with very interesting historical policy observations and recommendations for this current crisis in chapters 21 - 25. Nonetheless the real power of this book occurs in its historical analysis of capitalist development since 1970s described in great detail in chapters 1 - 11.

According to Dumenil and Levy the historical tendencies of capitalism are radically mediated by politics and social class configurations (i.e. alliances). They argue capitalistic development, since 1880s, has gone through four primary stages and corresponding crises. They emphasize these developments are not historically necessary, but contingent on politics and social class configurations. Moreover, their analysis is particular to the capitalistic development in the United States and Western Europe, they are able to generalize or internationalize their analysis because of the U.S. global hegemony (although they certainly accept there are modes of resisting this hegemony (e.g. Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, China, etc.).

Dumenil and Levy have demonstrated in previous work the tendency of the rate of profit to fall in capitalistic economies. However, because politics and social class alliances can change, so can the profitability. The current crisis was not caused by falling rates of profits, but by financial innovation, credit overextension, and the particular social class alliances facilitating these activities. There is no single cause of the crisis, but broader social political mechanisms at work and in the process of transformation.

The basic story goes like this: following the Great Depression of 1930 a strong social political alliance emerged between the management class and "popular classes" (this popular class includes blue and white collar workers, including quasi-management, clerical, and professional, which cannot be reduced to the traditional "working-class"). In the 1970s there was a severe profitability crisis, the legislative and institutional response to this crisis caused a fracture between management and popular classes, and a re-alliance between management and capitalist classes (which includes ownership and financial classes).

Once the alliance between capitalist classes and management had been forged in late 1970s and 1980s, profitability returned and financial incentives and financial innovation reconfigured personal incentives and corporate motivations. Most important according to Dumenil and Levy is that these historical transformations manifested a "divorce" between ownership/finance and the domestic economy and its actual production process. The political system did nothing to reconcile this disconnect, indeed expedited the divorce via deregulation and financial innovation, what the economic literature calls "financialization" (although, to repeat in several countries the response was radically different and in specific opposition to U.S. hegemony and the neo-liberalism which the U.S. Treasury, IMF, World Bank, and WTO exported to the rest of the world).

[Jun 06, 2013] A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey

R. Albin (Ann Arbor, Michigan United States) February 4, 2012

A good way to discuss this concise and clearly written book is to compare it with some recent discussions of politics and economics in the USA, notably the analysis published by the political scientists Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker in their book Winner Take All Politics. Pierson and Hacker point to the increasing concentration of wealth and political power in the USA, the decline in social mobility, the impressive ability of the very wealthy to influence Congress and elections, and how these phenomena have arisen over the past generation. Readers interested in a concise discussion of their conclusions can easily find a nice review article by Hacker and Pierson using Google Scholar or similar search services. Other recent relevant issues include the decline in American manufacturing, the increasing role of the financial services sector, and the dangerous economic fluctuations introduced by a global and relatively unregulated financial system. Harvey, however, identified and discussed all these themes insightfully several years ago.

Beyond his prescience, Harvey's particular contributions are three-fold.

Harvey also points to many of the other contradictions of neoliberalism. It is often a license for the wealthy to exploit political systems in ways that undercut its central claims. Claims that it would produce an era of enormous economic growth with a rising tide raising all boats proved groundless. Regimes purportedly espousing neoliberalism, such as the Bush II era USA, indulged in disguised and incompetently applied Keynesianism. Despite scientistic claims to be based on basic features of economics, neoliberalism often ignores basic findings of economic research.

Defects of Harvey's analysis

Defects of Harvey's analysis include a bit of overemphasis on what might be called the conspiratorial aspects of his class based analysis. Harvey also omits an important criticism of neoliberalism - its failure to recognize the sources of long term economic growth. The latter depends on technological innovation and implementation of new and improved technologies.

Two and a half centuries after the start of the Industrial Revolution, the low hanging fruit has long been harvested and further technological change depends on substantial state investment in research, including considerable investment in development and industrial policies, and a large and well educated work force.

These preconditions for sustained growth aren't and probably will never be generated by neoliberal regimes.

Izaak VanGaalen

A Critical Look at the Post-Keynesian Era

The term neoliberalism is usually heard in the pejorative sense, often coming from Latin American leaders such as Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. The term refers to an international economic policy that has been predominant in policy-making circles and university economics departments since the 1970's. The four faces on the cover of this book (Reagan, Deng, Pinochet, and Thatcher) are considered by David Harvey the primemovers of this economic philosophy. Reagnomics, Thatcherism, Deng's capitalism with Chinese characteristics, and Pinochet's free market policies marked the beginning of new era of global capitalism.

Neoliberlism as a philosophy holds that free markets, free trade, and the free flow of capital is the most efficient way to produce the greatest social, political, and economic good. It argues for reduced taxation, reduced regulation, and minimal government involvement in the economy. This includes the privitization of health and retirement benefits, the dismantling of trade unions, and the general opening up of the economy to foreign competition. Supporters of neoliberlism present this as an ideal system. Detractors, such as Harvey, see it as a power grab by economic elites and a race to the bottom for the rest.

In this short, but very well researched book, Harvey charts the capital flows of the last thiry years. In the 1970's, there was the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, with its fixed exchange rates, tariff barriers, and capital controls. It gave way to floating currencies and high trading volumes. Capital started searching the globe for comparative advantage. Proponents claimed that this routed out corruption and inefficiencies, while opponents saw instability and exploitation. Indeed, Harvey produces ample statistics showing how the rich got richer and the poor stagnated. More surprisingly, he points out that the aggregate economic growth during the years of Keynesian management (the decades between World War II and the 1970's) was greater than during the neoliberal era (the 1970's to the present). The neoliberal era benefitted mainly the wealthy. In the US, the richest 1% now control 15% of the wealth as opposed to 8% at the end of World War II.

When Reagan and Thatcher came to power in the late 1970's and early 1980's they used their control of the IMF and World Bank to impose neoliberal policies on the developing world - especially Latin American countries. In the case of Chile, Pinochet - after violently ousting the Allende government - instituted free market policies as prescribed by the Chicago school, and was relatively successful. Other Latin American countries were not so successful, and it created a backlash of populist nationalisms in the form of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

The section on China is one of the best in the book: "Neoliberalism with Chinese Characteristics". Harvey points out that China is not a pure neoliberal state. There is still heavy state intervention in the economy and management of the currency. And as a further criticism of neoliberalism, he reminds us that China has produced some of the highest growth rates - 9 to 10 percent annually. On the downside, the gap between the rich and poor is growing, and because their currency is held artificially low they are building dangerous overcapacity.

Neither does the US, for that matter, operate according to neoliberal principles. Even as it is urging other countries to maintain minimal government and balanced budgets, it is running huge deficits and issuing ever more t-bills to cover its excess spending.

With China and the US - two linchpins in the world economy - not playing according to the rules of the game a crisis is bound to happen. One country is totally geared toward producing and exporting, while the other is content with importing, consuming, and creating more debt. Harvey believes that the global economic readjustment that is going to take place will be painful and possibly violent.

Harvey's excellent little book illustrates, once again, that the perfect market, presupposed by neoliberalism and classical liberalism, does not exist. Unfortunately, he does not offer any remedies to rectify the current situation, nor does he offer an alternative system. Nevertheless, this book is very insightful.

Malvin

Deconstructing neoliberalism's peculiar definition of 'freedom' September 28, 2006

A Brief History of Neoliberalism" by David Harvey is a concise and razor-sharp deconstruction of the neoliberal movement. Mr. Harvey convincingly demonstrates that neoliberalism is an ideology that has been wielded to enshrine elite privilege at the expense of people and the environment. Assiduously researched and cogently argued, Mr. Harvey offers a jargon-free and readable text that helps readers gain a greater understanding about the political economy of our neoliberal world and what this might hold for us in the future.

Mr. Harvey explains that neoliberal propaganda has succeeded in fixating the public on a peculiar definition of 'freedom' that has served to conceal a project of upper class wealth accumulation. In practice, the neoliberal state assumes a protective role for capital while it sheds as much responsibility for the citizenry as possible. Mr. Harvey details how neoliberal theory is ignored whenever it comes time to bail out corporate interests from bad decision making while the safety net for the working class has been gradually eviscerated. The author effectively intersperses the text with graphs to illustrate how thirty years of neoliberalist policies has resulted in rising inequality, slower economic growth, higher incomes among the upper class, and other measures that serve to convincingly support and prove his thesis.

Mr. Harvey's history of how neoliberalism has gained ascendancy mostly treads through familiar ground but also highlights some key events that are sometimes overlooked by others. For example, Mr. Harvey relates the well-known stories of how the Chilean coup in 1973 opened the door for Augusto Pinochet to implement the first national experiment in neoliberalism, followed by Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in the U.S. in 1980.

However, we also gain greater appreciation about the importance of the New York City bankruptcy in the 1970s. We learn how the city's financial crisis allowed for the imposition of neoliberal reforms in a manner that would prove to be a familiar template around the world:

Mr. Harvey surveys neoliberalism around the world to discover connections and to analyze its effects. He finds that the U.S. economy has benefited immensely from its ability to extract tribute from other nations, including the U.S. financial community's probable engineering of crises in developing nations in order to scoop up devalued assets on the cheap.

The author discusses how economic restructuring programs imposed on poor countries has benefited U.S. and other foreign investors while it has bolstered or created a small but powerful class of wealthy individuals in Mexico, South Korea, Sweden and elsewhere. In China, Mr. Harvey remarks about the ease with which neoliberalism has found a home in an authoritarian state where the political elite have amassed their fortunes by exploiting a defenseless working class. The author is particularly concerned about the symbiotic relationship that has developed between the U.S. and China and muses about the potentially catastrophic financial situation that the two countries' mounting debts might pose for each other and the world economy.

In the final chapter, Mr. Harvey writes passionately about the need to continue building diverse democracy movements within the U.S. that are dedicated to social and economic justice. Although it is true that Mr. Harvey does not detail precisely what must be done, his thorough dissection of neoliberal ideology empowers us to effectively challenge those who hide behind false rhetorical devices in service to privilege. And for that, we should be grateful.

I give this outstanding book the highest possible rating and strongly recommend it to all.

E. David Swan

Freedom for some, crumbs for others February 19, 2007

On the first anniversary of 9/11 President Bush made a speech saying, `Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world... as the greatest power on earth we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom.' Spreading freedom is the primary function of neoliberalization but as George Lakoff stated in `Whose Freedom?' freedom can be a very subjective term.

The freedom of neoliberalism is the glory of unfettered, free market economics and the rights of corporations and financial institutions over individuals and governments. It's the freedom to fully exploit resources and workers.

From its founding America's wealthy have feared democracy recognizing that the majority, being poor and middle class, could vote to redistribute wealth and reduce the control held by the elites. After World War II, the middle class in the United States grew dramatically somewhat flattening the countries power base. As a reaction to this dispersal of power the early 1970's saw the formation of groups like The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEO's who were `committed to an aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation'.

As the author writes, `neoliberalization was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power'. The neoliberal plan was to dissolve all forms of social solidarity in favor of individualism, private property, personal responsibility and family values. It fell on well funded think tanks like The Heritage Foundation to sell neoliberalism to the general public using political-philosophical arguments.

At the same time a group of economists were working on economic theories that developed into the `Washington Consensus'. These followers of Hayek and Friedman just happened to create economic blueprints for growth that matched up exactly with the goals of the wealthy business elites. The plans were based on the superiority of the marketplace in making wise decisions but also assumed perfect information and a level playing field for competition. As the author writes, `...eminent economic theorists [...] argue that all would be well with the world if only everyone behaved according to the precepts of their textbooks' The neoliberal economists have become so focused on growth that they seem to take a decidedly amoral approach to human suffering. Above all countries needed to focus on privatization and low taxes and definitely avoid deficit spending. What has happened is a widening of the gap between the wealthy and poor. The author suggests that rather than an unfortunate byproduct of neoliberalism or a temporary situation this is the intended result.

The great irony is that the U.S., the world's number one proponent of neoliberalism, generally finds itself breaking the rules. With high deficit spending and massive subsidizing particularly in consumerism and defense spending the United States has generally taken a `do as I say, not as I do' stance. With the amount of political appointee/lobbyists shuttling back and forth between business and government Adam Smith's `Invisible Hand' looks more and more like a crushing fist.

This was not the book I expected. This is a devastating critique of neoliberalism. I didn't agree with everything the author wrote and there are most definitely many positives that have come from globalization but the corporatization of the world has the potential to by an enormous threat. Global Warming has to be the poster child for neoliberal extremism with short term economic growth trumping the welfare of the entire world. David Harvey has a decidedly liberal stance but he backs up his views with sobering facts. Despite being a book on economics I found it extremely readable and recommend it wholeheartedly.

Published on June 15, 2006 by

Interesting argument, but evidence too wobby to be persuasive This book makes a provocative argument: that the goal of neoliberal theory and practice is to restore wealth and power to a ruling elite.

Unfortunately, I don't think it presents a strong enough case. It has a lot of footnotes and a long bibliography, but (i) many footnotes refer to an entire book, without any indication of where the fact can be found, (ii) many of the... Read the full review

Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction by Manfred B. Steger (Paperback - February 8, 2010) 4.7 out of 5 stars (3)

Buy new: $11.95 $9.50 In Stock

Prime

[Jun 06, 2013] The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism by Colin Crouch

Diziet

Aux armes, citoyens! August 8, 2011

Colin Crouch's analysis of the continuing dominance of neoliberalism starts with a definition and history of his terms, showing how the word 'liberal' in particular has gone through some almost total reversals since the repeal of the Corn Laws. The ascendency of 'neo-liberalism', however, began in the 1980s, after the perceived failure of Keynsian economics.

The original 'Hayekian' or 'Ordoliberalismus' anti-totalitarian formulation whereby competition is seen as 'a process that would maintain in existence large numbers of firms, near-perfect markets and widespread consumer choice' was replaced by the Chicago School's view that competition should be seen in terms of its 'outcome' as the destruction of small firms and medium-sized enterprises, the dominance of giant corporations and the replacement of the demotic idea of consumer choice by a paternalistic concern for 'consumer welfare' (P16-17)

This concept of 'consumer welfare' is crucial. Unlike Hayek, this formulation accepts, even welcomes, the idea that competition will eliminate competition:

'If there would be efficiency gains from a number of smaller firms being bought out by a larger one, then that would be the outcome that would maximise what they called consumer 'welfare', even if it led to reduced competition and left consumers with a reduced choice of goods. What should therefore be the concern of the law courts in deciding antitrust cases is what outcome would be most conducive to the maximisation of consumer 'welfare', not 'choice' as such.' (P55)

By 'welfare', the Chicago economists considered the overall wealth of the society. The fact that the wealth may become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small and diminishing number of transnational corporations (or TNCs) and a stateless elite is neither here nor there. Any redistribution of wealth should be undertaken by governments and is not the concern of the corporation.

But then, the Chicago school has a major problem with the idea of government. Here, their ideas fit neatly in with those of the University of Virginia. The Virginia school considers that civil servants, politicians et al, are there purely for self-advancement - as portrayed in Margaret Thatcher's favourite sitcom 'Yes Minister' where the Machiavellian machinations of Sir Humphrey had little to do with the promotion of societal good. Governments are seen as 'at best incompetent and at worst corruptly self-seeking' (P63).

The only way to ensure any efficiency and effectiveness in government is to apply the rules of the market. In other words, governments should act like, and learn from, firms. Thus we have the endless setting of targets, the breakup of government agencies into competing bodies and, most importantly, the inclusion of firms in the running of government in Public Private Partnerships (PPP), Private Finance Initiatives et al in almost an odd sort of reversal of mercantilism.

What develops from all this is a tripartite division - firms (TNCs), national governments and, surprisingly perhaps, the market. Here, 'the market' really refers to small and medium sized enterprises (or SMEs). It is perhaps interesting to compare this with Dani Rodrik's 'trilemma' where power is negotiated between the 'nation state', 'democratic politics' and 'hyperglobalization' - here 'hyperglobalization' more or less equates with the TNCs while the 'nation state' and 'democratic politics' conflate into national government, but the market is not really considered. I find Colin Crouch's model more convincing.

Although Crouch doesn't use the term kleptocracy, he does refer to oligopolies. Quite frankly, in the case of international banking in paricular, the difference is only one of degree. The virtual merger of politics and corporations, particularly in the US, is plain to see. The revolving door between government agencies, lobbying organisations and the corporations is notorious (see Thomas Frank's excellent 'The Wrecking Crew') but, at the same time, corporations consider themselves to be only responsible to their shareholders - the maximisation of shareholder value is considered to be management's sole aim, even though they are increasingly intimately involved in the legislative process.

It is odd, then, to see the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). More often than not, of course, this is simply just a marketing tool. Crouch puts it nicely in the heading of chapter 6 - 'From Corporate Political Entanglement to Corporate Social Responsibility'. Political power has become increasingly concentrated in firms, or governments acting like firms or firms working for/with governments. This is hardly surprising. As Crouch says:

'a polity in which economic resources were very unequally shared would be likely to be one in which political power was also concentrated, economic resources being so easily capable of conversion into political ones.' (P125)

Later, he seems to echo Peter Oborne's 'The Triumph of the Political Class':

'...the state, seen for so long by the left as the source of countervailing power against markets, is today likely to be the committed ally of giant corporations, whatever the ideological origins of the parties governing the state.' (P145)

It seems that CSR has, then, almost taken the role of what the French aristocracy used to refer to as 'noblesse oblige' (P150). But, suggests Crouch, the growing CSR movement might be seen as a reaction to pressure from a fourth element outside the 'firms, state and market' - 'civil society':

'Civil society includes, though extends further than, the voluntary sector. It defines all those extensions of the scope of human action beyond the private that lack recourse to the primary contemporary means of exercising power: the state and the firm...States and firms do dominate our societies, but there is a lively field of contention. Challenges to domination can be made, concepts of public goals explored and turned into practical projects, against the state's claim to monopoly of the legitimate interpretation of collective values, and against the firm's claim that the conversion of values into the maximisation of shareholders' interests is as good as life can get.' (P153-4)

Crouch considers that there are potentially five types of groups that may challenge the state and the firm. Most of these are pretty well compromised, he feels, and I would agree. Political parties (see Peter Oborne) and most organised religions - both seem unlikely contestants. Whether campaigning groups, the voluntary sector and ethically motivated professionals can make the difference and wield the 'power of the powerless' is finally what this book is about. Where Dani Rodrik calls for a 'reining in', a deliberate limitation to 'hyperglobalization' in order for nation states to again exert a moderating influence, Crouch sees the nation state as hopelessly compromised and the only moderating and humanising influence coming from civil society:

'Civil society...operates in the interstices left among the great erections of political and economic power, like little houses springing up busily and untidily, creating vitality in a street dominated by the inaccessible security-controlled doors of skyscrapers. Since it contains a vast array of competing groups, with different and sometimes opposed moral agendas, it also embodies a kind of moral relativism. But this is moral relativism only at the meta-level of the character of the system as a whole. Within it the great majority of participants act with moral purpose. In societies that contain a plurality of rival values, where no religion or set of beliefs has hegemony, that is all we can hope for.' (P161)

The question is, is it enough? Is this anything more than a 'post-modern relativist politics' or a restatement of 'pressure group politics'? I'm not convinced - but the ideas just might help fuel resistance to the neoliberal monolith. Thank-you Professor Crouch. :-) RACKETS AND REVOLUTIONS October 31, 2011

DAVID BRYSON TOP 1000 REVIEWER

The general public, such as myself, need to understand economics these days, supposing we didn't before. This book is the right kind of adult reading. It explains, with severe and unflagging concentration but without jargon or statistics, the economic theories that have dominated the last 80 years. Professor Crouch sees neoliberalism as having stepped into the vacant space left after the inflationary excesses of the 70's were taken as a sign that the generally Keynesian consensus that had dominated `western' economies since the 30's was played out. I think he should have gone one step further and made a point that would fit his later argument perfectly, namely that the reaction was not so much against Keynesian theory as against the behaviour of the working classes whom Keynesian demand management and deficit spending had empowered. They had created wage-push inflation, so here was the opportunity to push back and reduce them to the statistics that is all they constitute in market-forces economics of various varieties.

Crouch is repelled by this mentality and so am I, but he has written no kind of tract or political pamphlet. He issues no simplistic demands to change the system or even to reform it drastically, because however repellent it is not nonsense. There is strong economic argument underpinning it, and Crouch states in so many words that the Chicago economic theory at least describes the present-day economy. However it is masquerading as being some triumph of free markets, and Crouch demonstrates powerfully that it is nothing of the sort. What has happened behind the presentational sleight of hand is that the manipulation of the economy has reverted into the hands of a few movers and shakers in the big corporations. It has largely obliterated the kind of free market that Adam Smith and other such dreamers envisaged, and reduced `consumer choice' to choice among such options as it has itself contrived through gaining a grip on legislatures and controlling the terms of popular debate. The masquerade consists in the monstrous effrontery of representing this oligarchical outcome as the result of untrammelled consumer choice. We have got what we really asked for, apparently, it's just that we don't know it.

On the one hand this reduces individual consumers to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance, on the other it places the control of the economy in comparatively few hands; and that, I slightly suspect, may be neoliberalism's Achilles heel. To me, it seems to follow from Crouch's arguments that while there are some basic economic laws, such as supply and demand, that are more or less as immutable as gravity, others depend on what people in general will accept. It is convenient to depersonalise the behaviour of `money' or `capital' as if it moved itself without human intervention, but they can only get away with this story if it represents some genuine mass activity. Once it gets down to traceable individuals then sooner or later they can be traced. Technology helped to create the problem by allowing money to move so quickly that the transactions are done and dusted before anyone else realises, but technology can also now see into places that were once beyond inspection, even if there is a time-lag before the scrutiny happens. Disclosure, not by lumbering governments and regulators, but by the public at large, may yet be neoliberalism's nemesis.

I rather wish that Crouch had separated his analysis more, putting manufacturers in one category and the bankers and such like in another. There is surely a clear difference between firms that produce genuine products, items that at least have a genuine cash price and value, and the manipulators of `money' that is really no longer true money but a figment that gets progressively more fictional as it gets wrapped in bundles containing goodness knows what supposed transactions, valued according to what are literally bets on what the next punter, equally ignorant of what he is supposedly buying, might be willing to pay. How this current display of human arrogance and folly may develop obviously I have no idea, but it must be at least possible that if public outrage boils over it will target the money barons most. Major manufacturers may have the US congress, for example, eating out of their hands, but when the only financial reality is cash, something everyone knows and something that no conceivable economic system can change, then the spectacle of this or that finance house playing tricks it may not even itself understand in order to pile up phantom finances, thereby putting real people's real finances in peril, may just come to seem a racket too far. It takes me back to school history classes when we were required to identify the `causes of the French Revolution'. The causes could be summarised as one basic cause, namely that the oligarchy pushed their arrogance and presumption too far. Obviously an international money market is a different kind of target, and any putative onslaught on it would take different forms, but if the balloon goes up one thing for certain is that academic niceties, such as supposed inevitable rightness as markets work out their own impersonal logic, will be sidelined for the time being.

The international aspect is giving the whole show a breathing space, allowing, for one thing, outrageous remuneration to be given to banking executives on specious grounds of international comparability. That particular bluff will surely be called sooner or later, but in general Crouch's handwringing at the way in which the money miscreants are getting away with it is a little misplaced. It can't all be stopped in its tracks, but he should not have fallen for the simple error of feeling he has to provide alternatives. These are bound to be easy prey for critics. The real value of this important book is in the earlier chapters; and the answer to any supporter of the status quo who said `You have to provide an alternative' should have been `No, you'.



Etc

Society

Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

Quotes

War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D


Copyright © 1996-2018 by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov. www.softpanorama.org was initially created as a service to the (now defunct) UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) in the author free time and without any remuneration. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License. Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine.

FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to advance understanding of computer science, IT technology, economic, scientific, and social issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided by section 107 of the US Copyright Law according to which such material can be distributed without profit exclusively for research and educational purposes.

This is a Spartan WHYFF (We Help You For Free) site written by people for whom English is not a native language. Grammar and spelling errors should be expected. The site contain some broken links as it develops like a living tree...

You can use PayPal to make a contribution, supporting development of this site and speed up access. In case softpanorama.org is down you can use the at softpanorama.info

Disclaimer:

The statements, views and opinions presented on this web page are those of the author (or referenced source) and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of the author present and former employers, SDNP or any other organization the author may be associated with. We do not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose.

The site uses AdSense so you need to be aware of Google privacy policy. You you do not want to be tracked by Google please disable Javascript for this site. This site is perfectly usable without Javascript.

Last modified: March, 18, 2019