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on 16 February 2013
A Brief History of Neoliberalism is a short classic. Very clear, concise and brilliantly argued with copious supporting evidence. Harvey dissects the advance of neoliberalism from the crises of the 1970s to its triumph after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Harvey's lectures on Marxism are justly famous for their clarity and this is also a defining feature of his writing. Thoroughly recommended for anyone wishing to understand the politics of contemporary world capitalism and its relationship to national states.
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on 9 July 2010
I can't add much to what previous reviewers have said.

Their reviews, however, date from a few years ago. I have read 'A Brief History of Neoliberalism' in the first months of the Con-Dem coalition government in the UK. Listening to the speeches of government ministers and their justifications for their actions and reading Harvey at the same time brought on an uneasy feeling for they were articulating, almost verbatim, the logic of neoliberalism as explained by Harvey. Without, of course, the analysis of what lies beneath their ideological mania and the wholesale enrichment of the financial elite via the mechanism of crisis.

Also, I'd point out that Harvey predicted the financial crisis that eventually occured and foresaw the responses from the global capitalist class that have, indeed, been implemented.

Not so much a history book as a book about the present and the future.

Brilliant. Read it.
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This is an essential, thought-provoking book for anyone engaged in international business, the media, corporate strategy and governance. It fills the gaps between what you see in the media and what you experience as a citizen and businessperson by very ably explaining the theory and practice of neoliberalism. This philosophy has largely replaced liberalism as a popular political doctrine. The results are not very impressive from a democratic perspective, according to this analysis by author David Harvey. Armed with a different perspective and interesting sources, he puts neoliberal political thought and practice into its modern context, in everything from foreign policy, to how the media (led by Fox News) presents events, to the emergence of the new super wealthy class built on huge profits raked in by select corporations. He dedicates a chapter to the way this policy has worked in China, and frequently cites its effects in other countries. We think this well-documented short book makes it easier for readers to understand contemporary events and recommends it to business strategists, media professionals and concerned world citizens.
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on 6 February 2006
Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Augusto Pinochet - these are the famous faces of neoliberalism, the economic (and, to some extent, philosophical) doctrine that advocates unregulated capitalism, free trade, small government (and hence low taxation) and the marketization of virtually every aspect of life. In this book, David Harvey does a good job of analysing the resurrection and rehabilitation of neoliberalism in the mid/late 1970s (with Paul Volocker at the US Federal Reserve Board, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Deng Xiaoping's acension to the leadership in China); and he brings it right up to today, as China steams ahead in economic expansion and outsourcing of jobs becomes an evermore noticable aspect of dislocation in 'the West'.
Essentially, Harvey's thesis is that neoliberalism is a form of class war: it involves a massive transfer of wealth from the developing/underdeveloped world to the developed world. When neoliberalism threatens ruling class power, Harvey argues, the rules of the game suddenly change: neoliberalism departs from classical liberal economic theory to safeguard ruling interests. An example includes the fact that the IMF intervened in the Russian currency crisis in 1997-8 to save Western investors from having to suffer bad debts: such intervention took the form of foisting painful 'restructuring' programmes on the Russian economy, which manifested itself in massive cuts in public expenditure (public employment, social welfare provision etc.). Under classical liberal economic theory, the investors should have suffered the bad debts, while the IMF should have helped the Russian government manage its currency difficulties without drastic cuts in public provision.
Harvey is good at tracing the way neoliberalism built up support (or, at least, tolerance) among the public. The concept of 'freedom' was the keystone, he argues. Neoliberals in governments, think tanks, universities etc. argued that freedom from outside interference was the greatest form of freedom. Hence, all forms of interference with the individual citizen (say, high taxation to finance a generous welfare state) were presented as illegitimate and tyrannical. Consequently, neoliberalism found a receptive audience in the individualistic generation that came of age in the 1960s: their various forms of 'rebellion' could be easily absorbed into the cool, ironic and self-reflexive capitalism that neoliberalism unleashed.(Thomas Frank has written a lot about this, the 'commodification of dissent'.)
Harvey ends by insisting that neoliberalism can be challenged: it is not invensible. Yet, I wish he devoted a little more space to discussing strategies that could be used in the battle to defeat it. Nevertheless, this is a good place to start on your journey towards creating a just and more democratic world.
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on 28 March 2013
This is a good introduction to the area of neoliberalism, this coming from someone who has diddly squat knowledge on the area. It's hard going at first but when you get passed the first chapter or so, you just sort of roll through it. Well written, seems well researched to me.

Only thing was my copy came with writing in it, which I wasn't pleased about as it was meant to be 'very good condition'.
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on 3 April 2011
David Harvey's book "A Brief History of Neoliberalism" is exactly that. It traces the origins of neoliberalism in the attempt of the capitalist class to reform itself and find a new class consciousness after the stagnation of the 1970s had ended the one great boom period of capitalist history (1950s-1970s). Neoliberalism is and was the project of destroying the power of organized labor and the social-democratic consensus in order to reconstitute the capitalist class as a power controlling and dominating all societies and the world. This is not a question of conspiracy, but a matter of the capitalists of different countries responding in similar ways to similar challenges to the accumulation of capital and the maintenance of their power over production and distribution; both the timing and the success of their endeavours vary by country and this is not to be assumed to be the product of some worldwide coordinated effort. But the policies and rhetoric in each case are largely the same, a combination of extreme liberalization and commodification with a strong emphasis on freedom in rhetoric and on authoritarian exercise of state power and nationalism in practice. This allows us to identify neoliberalism as one clear movement across the globe, from China to Chile and from the US to Sweden. It also allows us to identify neoconservatism, as it is called in America, as neoliberalism armed for conquest.

As David Harvey chronicles, far from actually increasing the freedom and wealth of all individuals, neoliberalism has failed to perform on all counts. It has devastated environments, destroyed the rights and position of labor, massively increased inequality and precariousness, led to an upsurge of crime and the 'informal economy', made many countries bankrupt while enriching the rich few in the Western world, and so forth. It has decreased our liberties by implementing ever more aggressive state postures against the inevitable backlash from the people, whether it is in the form of stringent anti-terrorism laws or the explosive increase in the proportion of the population that is imprisoned in the most neoliberal countries. It has shortened life expectancies and decreased social and health indicators. It has, moreover, failed even by its own test: worldwide growth rates have stagnated significantly in the period of neoliberalism compared to the semi-Keyenesian boom period after the war, with average worldwide annual growth rates declining from 3.5% pa to less than 1%. In fact, if it weren't for the reproletarianization and commodification of China, this worldwide growth might well be zero. So even by the standards of capital accumulation, it has not succeeded. David Harvey correctly emphasizes therefore that neoliberalism is not first and foremost a theory of economic policy, nor is it a philosophy like Hayek's; first and foremost it is using such policies and philosophies for the purpose of reconstituting and re-empowering the capitalist class, an ever smaller minority with ever greater wealth. It is for this reason above all that neoliberalism is a threat to the interests of the great majority everywhere in the world, and must always be defeated. Another world is possible.
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on 30 August 2009
In this short, but very well written and factual book, Professor David Harvey exposes, through figures and charts, the way in which the current economic system, which manifested itself in the late 1970s, has served very much in the interests of the wealthy, to the detriment of everyone else. He does this through exploring the words that have been used to sell capitalism to the general population of the world, such as "freedom", and "choice" and why they are bogus utopian myths, the way in which it has psychologically penetrated the aforementioned general population, making them think it is the best way of organizing society/the economy, exploring it in theory and in practice and showing how the two contradict, and much more. Put down the The Times/Guardian/telegraph, turn off the bbc's latest economic reports, and read this to gain a real understanding and critique of the world we live in today. Highly recommended
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on 30 March 2013
Everyone knows the world's just not right. But very few know exactly why. This book is a REAL eye opener, and gives you all the info you need to understand the world you live in, including the global financial crisis, which is just a by-product of the socio-economic system we have, and the deep psychological premises it is built on.
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on 5 January 2011
Neo-Liberalism, in essence the economic and political phenomena that has taken deep root in the world since the 1970s, is examined here and presented as an anti democratic force with a relentless drive toward plutocracy.
By no means a balanced and unbiased account, Harvey nonetheless provides an excellent chronicle and analysis of Neoliberalism from the experience of the US under Reagan, Britain under Thatcher, and China beginning with Deng Xiaoping.
Essentially, Neoliberalism is defined as the economic orthodoxy of minimizing state intervention, wherever possible privatizing sectors of the economy, and using high interest rates to offset inflation.
But what Harvey examines is a very mixed, and unorthodox practice of Neo-Keynesian policies (such as corporate welfare) termed as a redistribution of wealth upwards, and other phenomena's such as reserve army of labor, prevalent in China wherein a mass migration of 3 million from the country to the city is creating a super exploited underclass, and a downward pressure on regular wages.
Perhaps what is lacking is a wider examination of Neoliberal practice in international bodies such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO, but Harvey nonetheless provides a well argued, no matter how biased, indictment of Neoliberalism as a global phenomena.
Perhaps more contentious is Harvey's association of Neoliberalism with the rise of Neoconservative foreign policy and curtailment of civil liberties, but it is nonetheless a point well argued.
Certainly not an evenhanded or unbiased account, but a decent read for those both familiar and unfamiliar with Neoliberalism and its critiques.
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on 13 September 2013
A cutting indictment of modern economic practices from the eminent Prof. Harvey. deeply interesting, and whilst concise, builds an enquiry of some depths into the truth of the neoliberal agenda. Analysis ever tinged with characteristic Marxism, but even for those not subscribing to such views, this offers a glimpse through the looking glass, and even more interesting in the wake of the financial crisis of 08, and following political ramifications, especially in the USA and China.
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