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Conclusion: Brief History of Neoliberalism

by andrethegiant Wed Mar 28th, 2007 at 11:31:02 AM EST

I'm back with an ending to my excursion into Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism.  You can catch part I and part II if you're interested in more of the details.

The Geographies of Neoliberalism

Harvey's analysis of the variations of neoliberalism across the globe provide fascinating accounts of neoliberalism's successes and failures.  While I will not delve into the details of his examples, one of the general trends that he notes is that countries that followed neoliberal "shock therapy," inevitably encountered tremendous economic road blocks.  The shining neoliberal examples of the 1970s--New York, Chile--provided "proof" needed to instigate institutional change in the early 80s.   The Wall Street-IMF-Treasury became increasingly univocal and redundant, leading to a self-reinforcing "Washington consensus" (92-93).  This was mirrored by the arrival of a monetarist neoliberal cohort in departments of economics all across the U.S., a development not unrelated to the influence of the thinktanks setup by Neoconservatives a decade or so earlier.  As Harvey and many others have noted, neoliberalism and neoconservatism simply became common sense.

Harvey's main point is that neoliberalism leads to highly uneven flows of capital and geographical development.  This is related to what he says in a recent book, The New Imperialism, that the period of 'primitive accumulation' is on-going. (Primitive accumulation refers to the marxian notion of the initial periods of capitalism where monetary power differentials became established.  For Harvey, this is not a historical notion, but a dialectical one that is inherent (and therefore ongoing) in all forms of capitalism.  Primitive accumulation can be defined simply as "theft," but with social institutions--The World Bank and IMF for example--providing the means and excuses.)

more below

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A brief History of Neoliberalism: Part II

by andrethegiant Tue Mar 20th, 2007 at 08:40:03 AM EST

Sunday I began posting on David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Part I centered on the "birth" of neoliberalism and some of its central contradictions involving the power of the state, monopoly power, the strong tendency towards establishing class power, and notions of freedom.  In fact, as for the latter, the Right sucessfully used neoliberalism's framing of economic libery to seduce large categories of traditionally working class voters.  The history of neoliberalism is thus instructive to those on the left who are seeking new ways of framing issues of personal liberty, the economy and possibilities self-realization within modern society. The following summarizes what Harvey sees as the first example of hardcore neoliberalism's implementation in the U.S. (the case of NY City), how consent was created.  He then goes on to delineate the basic (and contradictory) components he sees in the neoliberal state.

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David Harvey's 'A Brief History of Neoliberalism'

by andrethegiant Mon Mar 19th, 2007 at 05:43:15 AM EST

I've just written a summary (for my own work) of David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism.  Having followed all the excellent diaries here recently on various economists (and Jerome's neolib reference today) I thought Harvey's ideas might be of interest to some of us around here.

Because I've summarized Harvey's work in some detail, the post is quite long, so I will be splitting it up over several days.  The first few diaries will be more or less just a plain summary.  When I get to the end, I will try and open up the discussion with some outside sources (by Harvey and others) to put this particular work in context...

From the diaries - afew

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Another Third-Way Diary--from Post-Autistic Econ

by andrethegiant Fri Sep 29th, 2006 at 03:00:04 PM EST

Almost simultaneously with the Philip Stephens article that Jérôme points out in his"Third Way" diary, the Post Autistic Economics Review comes out with an interesting article on that very subject:

Is New Labour's `Third Way' new or just hot air in old bottles
.  The paper is interesting and downloadable to word for free.  Now that I'm back to blogging after a long absence, I'll also post some interesting tidbits below the fold.

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The American Dream Dies, Economic wolves on the prowl...

by andrethegiant Thu Apr 27th, 2006 at 11:38:05 AM EST

(This story is x-listed over at dKos.  I thought I should post it here because you folks here are constantly inspiring me with facts, figures and insights.  Many thanks.)

A few months ago I wrote about a Honduran woman I met trying to cross the border.  In Mexico, she had fallen off a train, had her leg crushed and been thrown in the bushes to die.  She was found, given medical care and a prosthesis, then shipped back to Honduras where the local company manager said she was too "f**ked up" to get a job.  Her alcoholic step-father said about the same.  So here she was in Tijuana telling me she was going to try to cross again and make her way to Boston.  She was young, tough, seemed smart, but--I couldn't help thinking--also a little delusional.  Eventually it occured to me (this was at the time of the mine tragedies earlier this year) that most Americans harbor similar illusions about America, particularly about class mobility here. Today a new Reuter's story explains this:"America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday".  

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Economics, French Style

by andrethegiant Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 10:27:36 AM EST

This is my first diary entry here, so I hope I'm not stepping on anybody's toes...

I came across "Economics, French Style" when I awoke this morning, and I thought it would make for some conversation.  In typical NYT/IHT style, it glosses over reality and paints France in a backward light.

PARIS Danielle Scache tries to avoid using the term "capitalism" in her economics class because it has negative connotations in France.

Instead, she teaches her high school students about the market economy, a slightly less controversial term she started using last year after a two-month internship at the dairy giant Danone. That was an experience that did away with more than one of her own prejudices, she said.

"I was surprised to see that people actually enjoyed working in a company," said Scache, who is 59. "Some of them were more enthusiastic than many teachers I know."

"You know," she confided with a laugh, "in France we often think of companies, especially multinationals, as a place of constant conflict between employees and management."

This view of bosses and workers as engaged in an endless, antagonistic tug-of-war goes some way toward explaining the two-month rebellion against a new labor law.

In this world, beyond the political fault lines of left and right, companies and the market cannot be trusted. Any measure that benefits them necessarily hurts employees. The invisible hand in this world is the state, or the "public powers" to use the French term, whose role is to tame companies, protect workers and hold sway over economic growth with public spending.

It is a world that many people here still prefer to live in. In a 22-country survey published in January, France was the only nation disagreeing with the premise that the best system is "the free-market economy." In the poll, conducted by the University of Maryland, only 36 percent of French respondents agreed, compared with 65 percent in Germany, 66 percent in Britain, 71 percent in the United States and 74 percent in China.

The findings suggest that French reluctance to introduce flexibility into the labor market - the embattled new law makes it easier to fire young workers - goes beyond the reform fatigue and nostalgia for the post-World War II welfare state evident in some other European countries. As Finance Minister Thierry Breton put it last week: "There is a significant lack of economic culture in our country."

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