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A Brief History of Neoliberalism [Hardcover]

by David Harvey
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)


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Book Description

September 15, 2005 0199283265 978-0199283262 0
Neoliberalism--the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action--has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. Writing for a wide audience, David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism and The Condition of Postmodernity, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. Through critical engagement with this history, he constructs a framework, not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.


Editorial Reviews

Review


"Harvey's book is deeply insightful, rewarding and stimulating. His history of neoliberalism may indeed be brief, but the richness and profundity of this volume is without question."--Michael J. Thompson, democratiya


"Presents a concise but extremely well-documented economic history of the last three decades, encompassing not only the usual G-7 countries but the entire world, with a particular emphasis on the US and capitalist China."-- Brian Holmes, Interactivist Info Exchange


"David Harvey has done it again. He has provided us with the most lively, readable, comprehensive, and critical guide to what might be called 'the condition of neoliberalism', uncovering its origins, tracing its spread around the globe, and exposing its devastating effects on the vast majority of people everywhere."--Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy, York University, Toronto


"With characteristic brilliance, David Harvey offers a razor-sharp analysis of the history and current condition of neoliberalism. In an intellectually extraordinary tour de force, he dissects the contradictions between the freedoms offered by neoliberalism and the liberties desired by the people. This book convincingly demonstrates how neoliberalism restores class power, flirts openly with authoritarianism, and undermines democratic impulses. With democracy under siege, freedom's prospect resides squarely in the struggle for new political governance. A must read if you want to know the state we are in and how to change it."--Erik Swyngedouw, Professor of Geography, University of Oxford


"This book compellingly challenges arguments praising the supposed advantages of neoliberalism. This is particularly important when the claim that there is no alternative to neoliberal restructing has been largely accepted... Harvey 's assessment of the shortcomings of neoliberalism and the practices used to distract attention from these shortcomings is indispensable to discussions of neoliberal policies."--Aaron Peron Ogletree, J.D. The Journal of Buddhist Ethics and The Electronic Journal of Sociology


"Leave it to David Harvey to brilliantly summarize in little more than 200 pages what has taken more than thirty years to emerge as a political-economic form of governance."--The Professional Geographer


"The many strengths of A Brief History of Neoliberalism cannot be adequately conveyed in this short space, but include powerful analyses of the devastating impact of neo-liberalism on the environment and labouring conditions (especially for women), a nuanced perspective on the external and internal forces compelling states to turn towards neo-liberalism, and the ways in which Marx's concept of "primitive accumulation" is highly pertinent to the neo-liberal era of capitalism."--Labour/Le Travail


About the Author


David Harvey is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He formerly held professorial posts at Oxford University and The Johns Hopkins University, and has written extensively on the political economy of globalization, urbanization, and cultural change. Oxford University Press published his book 'The New Imperialism' in September 2003 (reissued in paperback February 2005).

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199283265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199283262
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Harvey teaches at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and is the author of many books including Social Justice and the City, The Condition of Postmodernity, The Limits to Capital, A Brief History of Neoliberalism and Spaces of Global Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
188 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Critical Look at the Post-Keynesian Era June 15, 2006
Format:Hardcover
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.
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83 of 91 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"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.
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freedom for some, crumbs for others February 19, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Dry writing on an interesting topic
Books don't come much dryer than this one. I tried to read it because it has an interesting topic, but finally gave up.
Published 26 days ago by Cherie
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear description of the new ideology that rules the world
Excellent.
This is the ideology that rules the world. Neoliberalism is not "the way things are". It is a set of policies aimed at concentrating wealth in a few hands.
Published 1 month ago by Giancarlo Bucchi
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
I had to get this for my class.Harvey gives a very good analysis of neoliberal history. Would recommend for school or leisure reading.
Published 2 months ago by Zaquan
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrisy inherent in neoliberalism
This book provided clear details regarding the origins of neoliberalism and the hypocrisy evident in its practice, such as market manipulation, tariffs, ect.
Published 2 months ago by MumaD123
5.0 out of 5 stars As relevent today as when Harvey first published it in 2005
The world is embroiled in a war of ideas. A Brief History of Neoliberalism succinctly narrates the theoretical fine-points with ample real life illustration. Read more
Published 9 months ago by paul
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read
There is no better text for thinking critically about the last 40 years of world history. Harvey's book is politically sharp, well-researched and extremely readable. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Uptown Philosopher
5.0 out of 5 stars Harvey does it again
David Harvey is my hero. This book is an interesting and engaging read about Reaganism and Thatcherism. A must-read for anyone willing to engage with alternatives to capitalism.
Published 14 months ago by stynen
5.0 out of 5 stars incredibly interesting
An amazing book- especially if you are unfamilair with the field. Harvey writes clearly and succinctly- he explains difficult concepts quite well. Read more
Published 14 months ago by E. Allen
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enlightening!
This well-documented history helps each of us understand the revolution that has gradually bankrupted the public services sector in the United States and the United Kingdom. Read more
Published 16 months ago by DCD
1.0 out of 5 stars No Flexibility within single minded extreme views
The most compelling argument I can say about Harvey's Neoliberalism is this; Harvey looks at every extreme view point and over emphasis it. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Serafin
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