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A Brief History of Neoliberalism
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A Brief History of Neoliberalism

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  2,145 ratings  ·  142 reviews
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. Its spread has depended upon a reconstitution of state powers such that privatization, finance, and market processes are emphasized. State interventions i ...more
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published September 15th 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2005)
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Harvey has performed a rather impressive feat here: in a dimpled gumdrop over two hundred pages he has summarized - with a scope and depth that belies its brevity - the forty years of political-economic development labelled Neoliberalism - or globalism - that has, in fitful and uneven, but always steady, progression, become the dominant meme throughout the world. The basic plot has been tackled by many others*: Hayekian/Friedmanite Monetarism challenges the postwar Keynesian Embedded Liberalism ...more
A Brief History of Neoliberalism was written shortly before the current economic recession, and has become even more 'appealing' at a time when many are searching for both answers and blame. To be sure, critique of the current system and its damage is important. However, this critique falls into the category of 'sloppy and lazy,' and I have a tough time giving Harvey the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his intellectual honesty.

Let me say that I fully appreciate the central criticism of joi
Alex Hiatt
Dec 19, 2009 Alex Hiatt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone concerned with the state of the world.
David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism is an invaluable survey of neoliberal theory and practice. It begins with the intellectual roots of the theory in the 1930's and continues through the complex and often antithetical realities of neoliberal development since the late 1970's.

He characterizes neoliberalism as an economic system, however one which requires a complementary political component, that has either sought to, or has in certain cases merely facilitated the conditions to, recon

Ok, let me be honest. Would I have read this book if it hadn't been assigned for class? Maybe? But probably not. That being said, I am really glad I took this class and I'm glad she us start with this book. I wouldn't have been able to articulate neoliberalism before this book. Harvey deftly traces the history and emergence of neoliberal policies, mainly the privatization of industry, the opening of the market, and the financialization / globalization.

"It has been part of the genius of neoliber
Come on, admit it, you don’t really know much about neoliberalism do you?

Well, I won’t tell anyone. This here though is an admirably short history of how the elite got, get, and are getting so filthy (rich) while the lower classes eat deeper layers of dirt in our neoliberal age. Harvey calls the process 'accumulation by dispossession'. Neoliberals call it freeing up the market. It certainly does free…although perhaps not in the way we would like.

Well, the story goes something like this…

once up
Rob Kitchin
A brief review to go with a brief history. David Harvey, one of the world’s leading social scientists, details the dominant political ideology shaping a number of Western countries, with its tentacles ever more influencing the political and economic relations of just about all countries as they become bound up in the global markets and global forms of economic governance such as the IMF and World Bank. At its heart, neoliberalism promotes the logic of the free market; that the state is inherentl ...more
I remember reading this while lying on the beach in El Segundo next to the power station when I was preparing my big return to academia. For that purpose it was fantastic, though I won't pretend I didn't nod off to the sound of waves... As a basic summary of a very influential strand of political economy it’s great, David Harvey writes clearly and well, with a passionate interest that I find very engaging and decades of experience in wrestling with these issues, so on that level alone I would re ...more
similar to callinicos' Against the Third Way, chomsky's Profits over People, and other lefty discussions of neoliberalism. informative, committed, and so on.
David Harvey undertook a difficult project. He tried to unravel the complicated story of neoliberalism and to give an enlightening narrative account of how it originated theoretically, how it was practiced and what have been the results. And in my opinion he did a great job!

Concerning the first question - he acknowledges that there are many different theoretical versions but he is mostly concerned with the ‘Hayek version’ since it’s the most well-known and influential. It was Friedrich Hayek, Mi
The economy as a zero-sum game

[Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns and in 2013 posted revenues for $74 billion and $274 million profits. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites.]

Or the c
PSKPI Indonesia
Harvey argues in line with the conclusion made by Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy that "neoliberalization was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power" (p.16), utilizing the uneven development to insert their interests (p.87). This insertion interplays with time and place. Consequently, the materialization of the neoliberalization is uneven (p.118). It is so dependent on the internal class structure of a nation and its relation to the transnational condition ...more
Kevin Lawrence
While reading Harvey's book was nothing less than a worthwhile and beneficial experience, I do think think the book is a bit dated now and needs to be reissued with a new introduction that takes into account the events of the 2008 global financial crisis to hear how Harvey squares his main ideas about neoliberalism with that economic/social/political dynamic (does it show a resilience for neoliberalism that Harvey perhaps underestimated? Does it confirm or intensify some of the analytical conclu ...more
Harvey certainly gives a convincing account of neoliberalism. The style he writes in is very readable and lucid. However, I think this account, though convincing, lacks some credibility. It's all very well and good making the claim that the neoliberal ideology only exists to satisfy the interests of the upper class and create a system that redistributes wealth upwards. Undoubtedly this is what neoliberalism has done. But, I think this account errs a bit on the side of conspiracy. I thinks its ev ...more
Jul 27, 2007 Doug rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in political economy
Harvey argues that neoliberalism gained favor among the ruling classes during the economic crises of the 1970s. Simply put, the social contract agreed upon in a post WWII world worked for elites as long as the economy kept expanding. In the 1970s, the global crisis in capitalism kept economic growth stagnant. In other words, they were fine with a fixed percentage of the economic pie as long as the pie kept getting bigger. Once the pie stopped expanding, the elites wanted a bigger piece.

To incre
Bro_Pair أعرف
As a layman, this text was extremely accessible and informative. Unlike most political economists/geographers, he is compulsively readable, and has a flair for narrative and scope. As for his political and economic judgment, it is stunning to see how accurately in 2005 he anticipated the 2008 financial collapse, and more impressively, the concomitant state coercion used against the global protest movement that emerged from the depression. Harvey never descends into histrionics, but his attitude ...more
More or less the same argument that Naomi Klein presented in The Shock Doctrine-- neoliberalism is by no means necessarily paired with democracy. Harvey, however, presents it in a more intellectually rigorous, less journalistic fashion. I'm very OK with this-- it's what one would expect from a widely regarded academic, and something I would hope for from someone whose intellect I admire as much as David Harvey's.

The basic point is that we should all reject neoliberalism, and that in the past 20
Matthew Maclean
Readable (for Harvey) and concise description of the basic ideas of neoliberalism, its various beginnings and increasing entrenchment across the world, and an assessment of just what it has actually managed to achieve.

Many of the topics - aspects of neoclassical economic theory, the story of the Thatcher and Reagan governments, for example - are covered in much greater detail in other books. In fact, I doubt there is much that is original here, but that is not really the intention as the word "
One of the ideas that struck me the most in this book is the idea that social justice cannot really coexist with individualism. Because if you really want social justice in the world you have to repress personal desires. Not sure I really buy it but I did also recently come across the comment "Individualism is part of Colonialism" in a discussion on indigenous rights...
There is a far, far nobler prospect of freedom to be won than that which neoliberalism preaches.
It seems unlikely that a group of wealthy individuals meet together to plot their own greedy rise to unconscionable wealth, while the rest of the world crashes and burns. However, the effects on the rise of the wealthy class, and the expansion of the poor class over the last several decades has been the same whether it was intentional or not. It is certain that a few economists have had a profound impact on the world economy. Their theories, designated in this book and elsewhere as Neoliberalism ...more
Edd Yerburgh
An expertly written book on an incredibly relevant subject. Harvey 's presentation of neoliberalism is the definitive book on the subject, and you would be hard pressed to find a recent account of neoliberalism without reference to Harvey's seminal work.

Not only is this subject presented in laymen's terms, avoiding the 'obfuscation' many academic texts fall pray to, but its content is undeniably accurate and of valuable interest to the young academic.

I would thoroughly recommend this book, not
Read this after the Shock Doctrine. This is a pretty good work if you want to understand the economics behind the Shock Doctrine. Get ready for a serious dose of Friedman and von Hayek in this though.
Joel Rubin
Explains in about 200 pages how the modern conventional economic wisdom came to be, and its many consequences. Why is everything made in China? What is globalism? What is "free trade"? Why has union power declined in the US? Why have the rich gotten so much richer since the 80s? Etc, etc. If you have ever noticed that in the US there seems to be a conflation of supposedly "progressive" ideals of individual freedom and liberty with the un-progressive "freedom" of financiers and corporations from ...more
Mário Lopes
The book entails multiple definitions of "neoliberalism" that seem constructed based on the author's whims and own interpretations without any consubstantiation in terms of solid political science. At the same time, Harvey tries to associate every single event of havoc and rupture as well as ad-hoc episodes of political governance (the invasion of Iraq, Russia's position, Deng Xiaoping's reforms, Argentina's default, Carlos Salinas' reforms in Mexico, etc.) to "neoliberalism".

Still, notwithstand
Tymotka Zołnierz
We often hear the term, especially in today's incoherent, often misleading, & unstable political economy, "neoliberalism". David Harvey attempts to demystify just exactly what neoliberalism is as a political, economic & cultural ideology not only in the US & UK but globally.

While this is a "brief history" I do wish that it was longer but Harvey does an adequate job at expounding the necessities. I'm quite glad the author goes into the dialectics of neoconservatism & its ideologi
Adrian Astur Alvarez
"US leaders have, with considerable domestic public support, projected upon the world the idea that American neoliberal values of freedom are universal and supreme, and that such values are to die for. The world is in a position to reject that imperialist gesture and refract back into the heartland of neoliberal and neoconservative capitalism a completely different set of values: those of an open democracy dedicated to the achievement of social equality coupled with economic, political, and cult ...more
Harvey's book is a really good examination of a economic ideology that has become the dominant cultural, economic, political, and imperial force since the late 1970s. He examines how the theory of neoliberalism--that free markets are the only ethical means of governance, that individual private property and accumulation rights are inviolate, and that everything is or should be commodified--has played out in practice to (re)establish a ruling class with incredible wealth at the expense of the mas ...more
John David
David Harvey, whose professional background as a geographer has slowly led him astray into the fields of economics and cultural criticism, has written a interesting, if dense, intellectual history of neoliberalism, in both theory and practice. While not nearly as consequential as some of his other work (especially “The Condition of Postmodernity” and “The Limits to Capital”), it is nevertheless a highly compelling, critical account of the prevailing economic ideology of our time. As someone with ...more
A friend once noted that Marxists are great at deconstructing ideas they disagree with but "are shit prescriptivists." Certainly true here. But that itself wouldn't necessarily be a huge problem. A critique can be a great thing, and there is certainly much to criticize in the current socioeconomic order, both in theory and as applied. Here, though, David Harvey spends much of the latter two-thirds of the book straddling—and often crossing—the line between being disingenuous and being flatly dish ...more
As Harvey (2007) suggests, "[c]ultural and traditional values (such as belief in God and country or views on the position of women in society) and fears (of communists, immigrants, strangers, or 'others') can be mobilized to mask other realities (39)."

This is apparent in the current political climate in the US. Through time, conservative Christianity and the Republic party began to become more affiliated, despite the separation of Church and State; soon many of the US hardships became viewed no
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David Harvey (born 1935) is the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). A leading social theorist of international standing, he graduated from University of Cambridge with a PhD in Geography in 1961. He is the world's most cited academic geographer (according to Andrew Bodman, see Transactions of the IBG, 1991,1992), and the author ...more
More about David Harvey...
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“Neoliberalization has not been very effective in revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded remarkably well in restoring, or in some instances (as in Russia and China) creating, the power of an economic elite. The theoretical utopianism of neoliberal argument has, I conclude, primarily worked as a system of justification and legitimation for whatever needed to be done to achieve this goal.” 11 likes
“Neoliberalization has meant ,in short,the financialization of everything.There was unquestionably a power shift away from production to the world of finance.” 5 likes
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