Posts Tagged 'neoliberalism'

Bonfire of Illusions: The Twin Crises of the Liiberal World, by Alex Callinicos

Plenty of illusions but no bonfire. The problem with this book’s title – acknowledged by Callinicos – is that the ruling neoliberal ideology is very much alive and kicking. Fixing as his point of departure the timely conjunction of the financial meltdown of 2008 and the Russia-Georgia war, the author argues that these events marked the end of the post-Cold War epoch of unipolar US supremacy and neoliberal orthodoxy. A detailed accounting of the financial crisis, informed by an understanding of falling profit rates, gives way to a weaker outline of geopolitical strategy that frequently reiterates the earlier economic arguments. SS

Polity; 2010; 179 pages

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Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century, by Giovanni Arrighi

This expansive work seeks to understand differing paths of capitalist economic development and portends tectonic shifts in world capitalism as China emerges as challenger to US hegemony. Beginning with a theoretical discussion of Adam Smith’s political economy, Arrighi contrasts Europe’s historical development with the purer market economics of the contemporaneous Far East. By examining historical transitions from one world-leading centre of capitalism to another, considering the role of financialisation in these processes, Arrighi ponders the future of US dominance after a series of monumental political and military failures. In the background China is rising; the new workshop of the world. SS

Verso; 2008; 418 pages

Spaces of Global Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Global Development, by David Harvey

Here are three lectures delivered by Harvey, a geographer by trade, in 2004. In the first he analyses neoliberalism in what is a finely composed exposition of its meaning: the restoration of ruling class power. The second is focused on uneven geographical development and Harvey masterfully employs his Marxian analytical toolbox to demonstrate how this unevenness is inherent to the system via processes of primitive accumulation, competing capitals and commodity fetishism. Finally, for the specialist Harvey tackles the notion of ‘space’, producing a nine-coordinate ‘matrix’ of different conceptions which we are asked to consider simultaneously and dialectically; it’s challenging stuff. SS

Verso; 2006; 154 pages

Militant Modernism, by Owen Hatherley

When devastating capitalist crisis offers a justification for the savage intensification of market discipline (for the masses), to counter-attack on either political or aesthetic grounds may seem audacious enough. To do so on both at once is outrageous and, in the case of Militant Modernism, outrageously brilliant – with thrilling style and a swaggering contempt Hatherley dismisses the pathetic unoriginality of new private housing, market-fetishising artistic practices and much else besides. He serves up a newly emancipating rediscovery of socialist modernism in public housing, planning, film and sexuality and writes with exhilarating confidence and astonishing thematic breadth: “Forward! Never forgetting.” AB

Zero Books; 2009; 160 pages

What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by Thomas Frank

Why do working class Kansans support a Republican Party that consistently acts against their interests? Frank’s simple answer is that culture has substituted for class; moral righteousness functions as an outlet for underlying anger at economic injustice. He examines the rhetoric of talk radio ‘shock jocks’, evangelicals, Fox News and right-wing politicians. Unfortunately the book is overly journalistic in places and the analysis is occasionally lightweight. Acknowledging the working class’s abandonment by the Democrats, Frank recommends a return to an old-fashioned economic populism. Despite its limitations, it’s encouraging to see a bestseller placing class at the heart of its analysis. SS

Holt McDougal; 2005; 336 pages

City: Cities for people, not for profit

This special issue of City investigates the theory and practice of resisting commodification in urban communities. The case studies offer a fascinating insight into struggles for justice in the city and include a diverse range of examples across the Europe, the US and elsewhere. The theoretical contributions are less impressive, though Slaters’ brilliant and surgical dismantling of gentrifying approaches to ‘regeneration’ provides a notable exception. Otherwise the specific modalities of urban power are not persuasively defined as autonomous from power operations in capitalist society as a whole whilst the strategic outlook eschews the working class without presenting a viable alternative. AB

Special Issue; Volume 13/Numbers 2-3/June-September 2009

Routledge; 2009; 210 pages

Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America, by Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas

A unique and fascinating perspective on the effects of the recent economic trends on America’s ‘fly-over’ states. Sociologists Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas move to a small town in rural Iowa to investigate parallel and symbiotic phenomena: ‘brain drain’, a cycle of encouraging the best and brightest to fulfill their potential by leaving the small town in favour of larger cities with more opportunities; simultaneously, as unskilled labour moves from the American heartland to countries such as China and Mexico in order to increase profits for shareholders, entire ‘brain-drained’ communities collapse overnight, leaving families without income and workers without options. MEL

Beacon Press; 2009; 224 pages


Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell

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