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The Crisis of Neoliberalism Hardcover – January 31, 2011

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ISBN-13: 978-0674049888 ISBN-10: 0674049888

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Editorial Reviews


This original and rigorous political-economic discussion of neoliberal global capitalism shows how deep the roots of the current crisis are and how stubbornly resistant it will be to conventional policy remedies. (Duncan K. Foley, author of Adam's Fallacy)

An ambitious and original treatment of the ongoing global economic crisis. Duménil and Lévy provide both an in-depth statistical and historical narrative and an overarching analytical framework. (Thomas R. Michl, author of Capitalists, Workers, and Fiscal Policy)

The Crisis of Neoliberalism is an insightful account of the factors that have led to the economic downturn. As Duménil and Lévy make clear, the economy cannot just return to its pre-crisis path. (Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research)

French economists Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy proceed from the somewhat heterodox proposition that ruling ideas arise not from their persuasive power or inner logic but from the interest of ruling groups… Duménil and Lévy move directly to the social and political history that led us to this turn, the underlying situation in which such intellectually bankrupt ideas could prevail. And what might become of a world that can no longer sustain such beliefs… Though elements of their analysis proceed (in their words) 'à la Marx,' the book is scarcely what one might thereby expect—that is, the opposite of [an] unreflective apologia for capitalism's premises… The two argue…that neoliberalism is not a collection of theories meant to improve the economy. Instead, it should be understood as a class strategy designed to redistribute wealth upward toward an increasingly narrow fraction of folks. This transfer is undertaken, they argue, with near indifference to what happens below some platinum plateau—even as the failures and contradictions of the economic system inevitably drive the entire structure toward disaster. Duménil and Lévy offer two provocative and interlocking schemas. They decline the bluntest of Marxist oppositions, which supposes a world divided only between owners and workers. But they equally abjure the endless proliferation of categories and distinctions, the slippery slope of micro-differences that leads to the paradoxical homily of conventional American thought: that individuals are just that, and thereby classless—and that everybody is middle-class. One might well see in this the shadow of Thatcher's other hyperbolic dictum of neoliberalism: 'There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families.' (Joshua Clover The Nation 2011-04-25)

Amid the torrent of books on the 2008 financial meltdown and the North Atlantic 'great recession,' this important new contribution from Paris stands out as an analytical beacon… Duménil and Lévy conclude with a comparison of the aftermaths of 1929 and 2008, an assessment of the significance of the crisis for U.S. hegemony and some sober prognoses on the social and economic order likely to emerge in its wake. The authors aspire to the kind of influence that Baran and Sweezy achieved with Monopoly Capital some forty years ago—and on this reading, they deserve it. Like Monopoly Capital, the analytical framework of Crisis of Neoliberalism uses some Marxian categories and language, but leavened with (often implicit) elements of Veblen, Chandler, Galbraith, Keynes and Polanyi. The result is a highly distinctive—and compellingly radical—approach, which demands serious attention… By any measure, The Crisis of Neoliberalism is a landmark intervention in the post-crisis debates… Young workers or students who have had the misfortune to enter the labor force during the Great Recession will require a far-reaching education in the history of capitalist crises if they are to begin to craft an alternative exit from the present one. This book should help. (Thomas Michl New Left Review 2011-07-01)

About the Author

Gérard Duménil is a Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris.

Dominique Lévy is a Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674049888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674049888
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,389,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Hans G. Despain on June 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Thompson on September 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Crisis of Neoliberalism gives a very quantitative description of the evolving social structure of the US economy over the past several decades, and in doing so puts the recent global financial crisis into historical context. Although it is normal for a book on political economy to contain a lot of numbers, this one is unusually quantitative in its emphasis; I'd say about 80% of the book consists of charts, tables and graphs, together with verbal descriptions of what those charts, tables and graphs are saying. The various figures are weaved together into a larger narrative, but often it feels like it is the numbers themselves that are really telling the story. Looking at graph, after graph, after graph can get tedious, but one has to keep in mind that the numbers represent the changing fortunes and social positions of millions of people. (One of the figures in the book, Figure 4.4, seems to have inspired an entire article in a recent issue of The New Inquiry; the article is called “Disgorge the Cash” and it's very good). The unusually quantitative approach is, I believe, very effective. There have been a bunch of lefty books about finance which have come out since the recent crisis, but (among handful that I've read) this one is definitely my favorite.

So, what do all the numbers in the book say? They (in conjunction with the theory provided in the book) describe the mechanics of how the US economy works, the role of the US economy in the global capitalist system, the shifting class compromises which make all this possible, and the ways in which all of the above have interacted over the past few decades to create the 2007-2008 crisis.
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