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Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics Hardcover – September 16, 2012
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Finalist for the 2014 Presidents’ Book Award, Western Social Science Association
Shortlisted for the 2012 Gladstone Prize, Royal Historical Society
"[I]ntelligent."--Kenneth Minogue, Wall Street Journal
"In impressive fashion, Jones analyzes the impact of free market economics and deregulation on political leaders in Washington, D.C., and London since the 1970s. . . . [A]nyone intrigued by the intersection of economic theory and political affairs will appreciate this learned, detailed book."--Publishers Weekly
"A cerebral, pertinent exegesis on the thinking behind the rise of the New Right. . . . [A] valuable study that helps flesh out the caricature of conservatives as only believing 'greed is good.'"--Kirkus Reviews
"[I]mportant. . . . [A] beguilingly erudite old-fashioned read."--Stephen Matchett, Australian
"Stedman Jones . . . describes the scene with remarkable accuracy, including its financial underpinning and its ties with conservatism."--Karen Horn, Standpoint
"Mr. Stedman Jones offers a novel and comprehensive history of neoliberalism. It is tarred neither by a reverence for the heroes, nor by caricature, for he is a fair and nuanced writer. This is a bold biography of a great idea."--Economist
"[A] lucid, richly detailed examination of the evolution of the free market ideology since the end of World War II."--Glenn C. Altschuler, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"[A] good read. . . . The deep history of neo-liberal thought is fascinating."--Andrew Hilton, Financial World
"Clearly written and relevant to a wide audience."--Daniel Ben-Ami, Financial Times Wealth
From the Inside Flap
"Daniel Stedman Jones has an unusual talent--making the history of economic thought fascinating and significant. In tracing the evolution of neoliberal ideas and their implementation in public policy in Britain and the United States, he does a superb job of helping us understand both the last half-century of Atlantic history and the origins of the current crisis. No book could be more timely."--Eric Foner, Columbia University
"Daniel Stedman Jones captures brilliantly the interaction between ideas and events in this compelling history of the rise of Thatcherism and Reaganism. He displays a willingness, unusual in a historian, to treat economic ideas seriously, and not just as weapons in a political struggle. In the light of the economic collapse of 2007-2008, the intellectual debates of the 1970s and 1980s, brought so vividly to life here, are as fresh as they were at the time."--Robert Skidelsky, author ofKeynes: Return of the Master
"Daniel Stedman Jones shows how neoliberalism gained ascendancy in both the United States and the United Kingdom. This timely book is a model of calmness, lucidity, and reasoned argument, intent on understanding neoliberalism rather than celebrating or condemning it out of hand."--Sean Wilentz, author of "The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008"
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Still and all, I would highly recommend this book for someone looking for an intellectual history of the movement.
He divides its history into three periods. The ideas were born in the first, influenced by the spread of totalitarianism and the New Deal. They spread in the second period as Hayek, Friedman, and their acolytes used think tanks and the media of the time to give them respectability and to make them available should the winds of policy change. That happened in the third, when failures of policies based on a reading of Keynes and a belief in the prowess of government failed. The mantle of neoliberal thought was taken up by Reagan and Thatcher, who put neoliberal tenets at the center of their approaches to policy.
Jones' account of neoliberalism is essential for those who wish to understand both this highly influential set of ideas and the roots of economic and social policy in both Britain and the United States over the last half-century.
He quite correctly points out the greed of bankers in creating CDO's, CDS's and other financial instruments of dubious value, but fails to even mention the greed of homeowners, borrowers, traders, savers, investors and politicians who advocated or bought with the infantile notion that wealth is effortlessly created out of nothing.
In seemingly British fashion, he also heaps scorn on the Tea Party movement without mentioning that we opposed the majority of the excesses directly responsible for the crisis, as we have since the founding of the republic. He implies that only "well funded state universities" could work in the UK, and completely dismisses without discussion the notion that parents should form their own schools in response to failing government schools, or that privatized schools have significant benefits to the overall level of education. His assumption that only "universal high quality publicly funded education and health care systems" provide value seems characteristic of European left wingers, and is not borne out by the history of the United States prior to the long, painful, and increasingly unaffordable and ineffective introduction of these programs.
In the end, this financial crisis was similar to the '29 crash; borrowed money chasing phantom profits, fueled by greed and ignorance. The names and technology are different, but the results are those of men uninformed by morality and history.
In the main however, this book is well worth reading, I highly recommend it.