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The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism

The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism [Kindle Edition]

Colin Crouch
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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"A highly approachable and illuminating argument in political economy ... The story is packed with thought–provoking reframings: financial irresponsibility is now a ′collective good′; and ′the idea of a "job"′ now seems very weird to me indeed." The Guardian "This highly accessible book makes its case persuasively." Times Higher Education "A rich and powerful book. It pushes towards an analysis of neoliberalism not as the set of liberalizing forces that it depicts itself as being, but rather as a grouping of impulses that have both hampered government and weakened market competition." Crooked Timber "An excellent contribution to the study of political economy that directly resolves the puzzle it has identified." Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research "A well–reasoned and tightly argued analysis of our present predicament. Although written for the intelligent general reader, rather than subject specialists, his insights constantly provoke and illuminate. Far from being merely a dry dissection of neoliberal theory, the book also addresses how to make corporations behave better." LSE Politics Blog "Takes forward and moves beyond Karl Polanyi’s (1957) analysis of state/market relationsto match the changing conditions of the twenty–first century." Journal of Contemporary European Studies "The most important work on the political economy of modern capitalism since Keynes, Kalecki and Schonfield." Philippe C. Schmitter, European University Institute "Colin Crouch shows how neoliberalism as embodied in large corporations brought about the Great Recession of 2007 and yet, ironically, they profited in wealth and power from it – at everyone else′s expense. A compelling read." Michael Mann, University of California, Los Angeles "An excellent contribution to the debate about neoliberalism. Crouch gives us a tightly reasoned and well balanced critique of the neoliberal philosophy that contributed significantly to the 2008 financial crisis. And his call for a more frank discussion in civil society of the moral and ethical assumptions behind neoliberalism is a refreshing addition to the traditional call for simply bringing the state back in to tame market forces." John L. Campbell, Dartmouth College

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Winner of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung prize

The financial crisis seemed to present a fundamental challenge to neo-liberalism, the body of ideas that have constituted the political orthodoxy of most advanced economies in recent decades. Colin Crouch argues in this book that it will shrug off this challenge. The reason is that while neo-liberalism seems to be about free markets, in practice it is concerned with the dominance over public life of the giant corporation. This has been intensified, not checked, by the recent financial crisis and acceptance that certain financial corporations are ‘too big to fail'. Although much political debate remains preoccupied with conflicts between the market and the state, the impact of the corporation on both these is today far more important.

Several factors have brought us to this situation:

  • Most obviously, the lobbying power of firms whose donations are of growing importance to cash-hungry politicians and parties;
  • The weakening of competitive forces by firms large enough to shape and dominate their markets;
  • The power over public policy exercised by corporations enjoying special relationships with government as they contract to deliver public services;
  • The moral initiative that is grasped by enterprises that devise their own agendas of corporate social responsibility.

Both democratic politics and the free market are weakened by these processes, but they are largely inevitable and not always malign. Hope for the future, therefore, cannot lie in suppressing them in order to attain either an economy of pure markets or a socialist society. Rather it lies in dragging the giant corporation fully into political controversy. Here a key role is played by the small, cash-strapped campaigning groups who, with precious little help from established parties, seek to achieve corporate social accountability.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 357 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (26 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CM6NY1W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #204,681 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading 12 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Neoliberalism is a strange doctrine. It sees market forces as a solution to all problems. If schools are inefficient, introduce market forces. If the water supply is run inefficiently, introduce private monopolies and let market forces work. If the banks collapse, there clearly weren't enough market forces operating: clearly government intervention and tampering were to blame! If a firm pollutes a river and kills the fish downstream, let the fishermen pay the firm enough not to pollute it: let market forces work things out.

In case you think I am taking the Mickey, or living in some parallel universe, let me say that all of the above arguments have been and are being made by neoliberals. So they are a weird, fringe group, right? On the contrary, they are at the centre of economic thinking today, and have been at the forefront of economic philosophy for some thirty years!

Colin Crouch has written a compelling book here, which charts the rise and development of neoliberal thought, which is at the heart of privatization, PFIs, targets, outsourcing and all the other responses to the inefficiencies inherent in the megalithic nationalized industries we inherited here in the '80s. His message is, not to go back to those days, but just try to logically analyze the thinking behind "market forces" and see whether those are really being applied in our current solutions.

Chaper 1, "The Previous Career or NeoLiberalism" is a primer in the rise of the new doctrine, a reaction to the inflationary pressures inherent in the Keynsian approach. He also covers Social Democracy in passing.

Chapter 2, "The Market and its Limitations", examines how the market operates and how it can fail.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading 20 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you want to understand why, despite the failure of the financial system, the model of neo-liberalism continues - read this book.
Firstly it explains what neo-liberalism means and how the concept of the `free' market has been distorted through its use to expand and embed the political, as well as the overwhelming economic power, of large corporations. In particular, the banks believed that they had become so powerful that governments would not allow them to fail (one weapon of the free market). In the meantime, individuals have been left to suffer the consequences of the shift of wealth to the those who run the large corporations and bailing out the banks through the tax system and cuts in public expenditure.
Crouch points to the continuation of the system; fantastic bonuses are maintained and the failure of the financial system has been re-written as a failure of governments to curb their spending.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By M. W. Hatfield VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My review will be much shorter than many here, but my sentiments will echo most. Read. This. Book. If you believe that the notion of the primacy of the Free Market has tainted everything in our society, from education to housing to hospitals...this book goes as long easy to explain the philosophy behind the economics.Yes, he may be too optimistic in his solutions, but it's refreshing to feel his search for answers. Let's join him! Man the barricades...
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By redbigbill VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Mr Crouch has presented a clear, readable and I think very important look at the socio/economic structure of modern capitalism over the last three decades or so since the laisez faire, neo liberal, neo conservative, call it what you will, ideology of basically unregulated, free market trading has come to dominate governments, public authorities, political parties and politicians almost the world over. I pause for breath.

The author seems to be well qualified academically for his opinions, he is Professor of Governance and Public Management at Warwick University's Business School. He is a member of the Royal Academy, has worked at the European University Institute in Florence, worked and taught at both Oxford and the L.S.E., has several books and a 194 recorded publications to his name mostly in the field of economic sociology, governance, industrial and labour relations etc. etc.. Hell, he even looks like a Professor on his web site photo!

What he probably does not have experience of is working in some low paid macjob, seeing his job 'outsourced' to a cheaper labour country, seeing his wages and pension rights being squeezed till the pips squeek - if he is lucky enough to have a job, had to survive on sixty five quid a week dole, spent months in the soul destroying search for any employment that will put food on the table. Seeing his kids get qualifications but not a job, ending up slinging pizzas in a hut or retail drudgedy - if they are lucky!

What he has seen in the last 30 years or so is the total demise of those ocupations that soaked up those in the U.K. population who had few or no qualifications.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Colin Crouch's book takes it's cue from George Dangerfield's 1936 classic `The Strange Death of Liberal England,' in which Dangerfield tried to explain the sudden collapse in the early 20th century, of the political ideas and a party that had dominated the late Victorian Age and pre-WW1 Britain. With Neo-Liberalism, he does however turn this analysis on it's head; his aim is to explain why, following a huge economic and political crisis based fairly and squarely within the ideologies of Neo-Liberalism, it hasn't collapsed and, indeed, hasn't just survived but is getting back on it's feet again determined to get back to business as usual.

This resilience of Neo-Liberalism is a fascinating phenomenon and a rich seam of socio-political analysis to mine, and Crouch does an admirable job of it. He charts the fundamental aspect of Neo-Liberalism that is simple but rarely acknowledged- either through myopia on the Left, or wilful masking and divertive myth-making on the Right, that actually existing- as opposed to ideologically pure- Neo-Liberalism is in no way as devoted to free markets as it relentlessly professes to be.

Crouch clearly explains how the trans global corporation is the true embodiment of Neo-Liberal economic theory, and that in reality has nothing to do with maintaining open, free markets in a democratic, `libertarian' political structure free of overt influence from the state. It is more to do with transferring power from the state- which by definition is believed by Neo-Liberals to be at best inefficient, at worst corrupt and nothing but self-serving, as well as naturally erring towards the creation of monopolies at the expense of consumer choice- to the private sector.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis, but falls at the final hurdle
Crouch has written an excellent critique of corporate lobbying power and the failure of the neoliberal economic model. Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2012 by Prof H
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of touch
Only a professor of economics could believe that the enormous power of international corporations could be tamed by the corporate responsibility movement and government regulation. Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2011 by T. Burkard
4.0 out of 5 stars Good analysis, weak on solutions and written in very solid jargon
There is a great book in here, Colin Crouch has written a good analysis of the current dominant ideology of our times. Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2011 by A. I. Mackenzie
4.0 out of 5 stars Last Rites or Right Lasts?
Nineteenth century Liberalism was committed to individual success and the small State. Neo-Liberalism is often viewed as more of the same but, as Colin Crouch points out,... Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2011 by Neutral
5.0 out of 5 stars RACKETS AND REVOLUTIONS
The general public, such as myself, need to understand economics these days, supposing we didn't before. This book is the right kind of adult reading. Read more
Published on 31 Oct 2011 by DAVID BRYSON
4.0 out of 5 stars well written, good analysis but weak synthesis
This is a lucid discussion of the growth of neoliberalism, reasonably described as a coalition of interest between laissez-faire capitalism and individualism. Read more
Published on 25 Oct 2011 by gerryg
4.0 out of 5 stars An important contribution to the literature
I have to admit when I started this book I was not too impressed. I thought it was not scholarly (referenced) enough, and I did not like the broad brush approach to branding all... Read more
Published on 4 Oct 2011 by Ioannis Glinavos
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and timely (tho' depressing) review. A clear analysis for...
This is a question many of us have been asking: with the abject failure of neo-liberalism, how come it isn't in full scale retreat? Read more
Published on 10 Sep 2011 by The Navigator
4.0 out of 5 stars Explains the state of the world economy very well.
I am not an economist so I found this hard going but it seems to be saying that there is a power struggle between politicians and big business and we poor piggies in the middle are... Read more
Published on 8 Sep 2011 by Moonshine.
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