- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (June 25, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1781680795
- ISBN-13: 978-1781680797
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
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- #798 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Economic Policy
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Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown 1st Edition
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“A powerful critique of neoclassical economics.” —Times Higher Education
“It is hard to imagine a historian who was not an economist (as Mirowski is) being able to encompass the economics of the second half of the 20th century in its diversity and technicality.”—London Review of Books
“Philip Mirowksi is the most imaginative and provocative writer at work today on the recent history of economics.”—Boston Globe
“A fascinating account of how the disastrous failure of mainstream economists to predict the economic crisis put them more firmly in control of policy debates than ever before.” —Dean Baker, Codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research
“Mirowski exposes the neoliberal takeover of minds and culture with an erudition, style and—dare I say it?—vocabulary that makes deep digging in this Great Bog of Repression almost a pleasure. This book shows how economic ideas caused the crisis. And it demonstrates their enduring triumph, which is that nothing has changed or will change, as we careen from the last disaster to the next one.” —James K . Galbraith, author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too
“The best and most thorough treatment of the financial crisis’s impact upon the economics profession, and especially its neoliberal wing. Mirowski is an excellent guide to the literature on all sides of this debate.” —Duncan Foley, author of Adam’s Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology
“A study guide for those who saw Inside Job and want more. Mirowski has read and digested virtually everything written about the financial crisis. He despairs of the failures of the economics profession to explain it, and especially what he calls the ‘level-headed left.’ Anyone who reads it will recognize the author’s enormous energy and originality.” —David Warsh, author of Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations
“A raucous, irreverent and highly perceptive analysis of how neoliberal economics not only survived the 2008 financial crisis, but even prospered in its aftermath. Mirowski’s book is a lively and far-reaching discussion of how it got us into this deep mess.” —Gerald Epstein, Codirector of the Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
About the Author
Philip Mirowski is a historian and philosopher of economic thought at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. His many previous books include Machine Dreams and More Heat than Light, and he appeared in Adam Curtis’s BBC documentary The Trap.
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Mirowski's book is one of the best on the crisis: he mixes the eye of an anthropologist or journalist examining our daily lives and then leaps up to 20,000 feet with ease to provide a wider intellectual and historical context. His take is novel, certainly from the Left, but well informed of debates on the Right. Empirical, but with a theoretical lens as well. If you want to understand not just the economics or politics of what happened, but to situate those events within a wider history of the ideas that played in a role in the Recession, Mirowski has an incredibly erudite account.
Mirowski is a member of the "Institute for New Economic Thinking", an non-profit aimed to correct the orthodoxies of economics, "neoliberal" ideas in particular. He opens this book with a report from one of the first meetings, which happened to feature "bold and original thinkers" like Ken "Excel for Dummies" Rogoff, Larry Summers and Niall Ferguson. The meeting ended with a timid call to add an extra chapter to standard Econ101 textbooks briefly describing the crisis. Mirowski further rightly groans at hand-wringing over "happiness measurements", morality in markets and peevish complaints of "greedy bankers" (as if avarice has only existed in the past ten years.)
How did this rigidity come to be? Mirowski answers by suggesting that we must understand neoliberalism as a Russian doll. The innermost doll of experts emerged from the Mont Pelerlin Society, an organization that was by design very hierarchical. He describes, for instance, correspondence between Popper and Hayek. Popper, following his philosophy of open debate suggested that MPS should have at least one respectable socialist. Hayek shut down this idea, insisting that agreement on first principles was a necessary condition for membership. This tightly networked group of intellectuals slowly incubated neoliberalism and developed a political strategy for propagating it.
Mirowski further points out that the Neoliberal Thought Collective were excellent sloganeers. Friedman's most famous academic text, for instance, argues that a lack of government intervention caused the Great Depression: a series of rural bank failures caused by an overly tight supply of money. However, when Friedman penned his Newsweek column he claimed with a straight face that the government *caused* the Recession, that is, by a lack of action in expanding the supply of money and reducing interest rates. This is how the Russian doll works: nuance for the insiders, ignorance for the outsiders.
There is a further layer to the doll though. Pivoting off of Foucault's final lectures at the College of France, Mirowski argues that there is an everyday neoliberalism that has emerged. Beyond political theory and public policy, neoliberalism is experienced on a quotidian level and it is on that potent terrain that it has survived the crisis. I, right now, am taking time out of my day to write a book review which I will be paid nothing for, which is in the service of the Bezo empire to sell even more books and probably destroy more local bookshops and which will be used to further quantify me into some bits of data in the sky so I can be marketed to even more heavily. But but but: I am individually expressing myself! How free am I! The neoliberal self is a creature coerced into being a "free" entrepreneur. It is the poor un/underemployed soul who thinks himself to be a failure or inadequate because he was not lucky enough to ride the right wave. The old liberal arts dictum to "know thy self" becomes "express thy self, and monetize it too!" This middle chapter here is the most engrossing part of the book. Mirowski delves into a sundry of sources on our culture and then leverages a novel and erudite analysis of Foucault to bring it all into sharp focus.
In closing, it is truly ironic that the other review of this book is so gravely concerned that Mirowski might be a socialist. We have a wonderful little anthropological artifact here of the NTC at work: "Whatever this book says, it's got 'Red' in a chapter title. I am a Very Reasonable Person and thus must be suspicious." Let me assure him/her: there are no calls for a violent revolution of the proletariat. On the contrary, Mirowski heads out to the outermost layer of the doll and analyzes why neoliberalism won. In particular, he argues that the NTC provided a powerful account of the market as a natural entity that *cannot* be messed with. Consequently, the Recession had nothing to do with the structure of capitalism itself, it was just a "once in a lifetime" moment akin to a natural disaster. An act of God.
Mirowski's careful history here shows that just the opposite is true. There was a concerted effort to propagate a particular ignorance and the Recession itself is by no means removed from that particular effort.
Most recent customer reviews
The main premise of the book is however that there is a conspiracy of sorts...Read more