A Brief History of Neoliberalism
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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. Writing for a wide audience, David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism and The Condition of Postmodernity, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. Through critical engagement with this history, he constructs a framework, not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.
(Figure 1.7). And so began the momentous shift towards greater social inequality and the restoration of economic power to the upper class. There was, however, one other concomitant shift that also impelled the movement towards neoliberalization during the Figure 1.7 The tax revolt of the upper class: US tax rates for higher and lower brackets, 1913–2003 Source: Duménil and Lévy, ‘Neoliberal Income Trends’. 26 Freedom’s Just Another Word . . . 1970s. The OPEC oil price hike that came with the
ﬁrst step in the long process of consolidating the political shift necessary to support Volcker’s turn to monetarism and the prioritization of the ﬁght against inﬂation. Reagan’s policies, Edsall noted at the time, centred on ‘an across the board drive to reduce the scope and 51 The Construction of Consent content of federal regulation of industry, the environment, the workplace, health care, and the relationship between buyer and seller’. Budget cuts and deregulation and ‘the appointment of
state in the 1990s, were instances of orchestrated interventions attempting to stabilize global ﬁnancial markets.6 Financial crises were both endemic and contagious. The debt crisis of the 1980s was not limited to Mexico but had global manifestations (see Figure 4.2).7 And in the 1990s there were two sets of interrelated ﬁnancial crises that yielded a negative trace of uneven neoliberalization. The ‘tequila crisis’ that hit Mexico in 1995, for example, spread almost immediately, with devastating
right to use communal lands under a ‘personal responsibility’ system in the early 1980s. Initially, they could sell surpluses (over and above the commune target) at free market rather than state-controlled prices. By the end of the 1980s the communes had been totally dissolved. Though the peasants could not formally own the land, they could lease it and rent it out, hire in labour, and sell their product at market prices (the dual price system eﬀectively collapsed). As a result, rural incomes
Characteristics’ typically took an entrepreneurial stance. The initial surge in rural incomes provided savings that could be ploughed back into the TVEs. Depending on location, joint ventures with foreign capital (particularly from Hong Kong or through the Chinese business diaspora) also ﬂourished. TVEs were particularly active in rural peripheries of large cities, such as Shanghai and in the provincial zones, such as Guangdong, that had been liberated for foreign investment. The TVEs became an