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A Brief History of Neoliberalism Paperback – January 18, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0199283279 ISBN-10: 0199283273 Edition: 1st, First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st, First Edition edition (January 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199283273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199283279
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"The most accessible and succinct overview of neoliberalism as an ideology and economic practice yet written. It lays out the origins of the idea, the devastating impact it has had on labor in both the advanced and developing world, and how it deepened crisis tendencies within the system...Harvey has done the left a great service in laying out a clear, concise, and provocative history of neoliberalism, one that can help educate a new generation of radicals and revolutionaries."--International Socialist 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


"If you want to sharpen your thinking and understanding of these questions then I strongly recommend David Harvey's new book. Even if you disagree with parts of this readable Brief History, your assumptions and analysis will be well tested, and your arguments improved."--Open Democracy


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).

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

Harvey in this book wants to present the history of neoliberal thinking.
Robert Moore
He does a great job of writing for nonexperts, avoiding jargon, focusing on important details, and constructing a memorable historical narrative.
Andrew Reynolds
Despite being a book on economics I found it extremely readable and recommend it wholeheartedly.
E. David Swan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

196 of 206 people found the following review helpful By Izaak VanGaalen on 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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85 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on September 28, 2006
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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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful By E. David Swan VINE VOICE on 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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