Neoliberalism and the biopolitical imagination

Authored by: Nicholas Kiersey

The Handbook of Neoliberalism

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138844001
eBook ISBN: 9781315730660
Adobe ISBN: 9781317549666


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The continued success of neoliberalism, as a global ideology of economic governance, is all the more stunning if one considers that the history of its disasters already stretches back quite far. Much of the wayward behaviour claimed to be at the heart of the current crisis would simply not have been possible without successive waves of neoliberal or ‘supply-side’ deregulation, dating back at least as far as the 1970s (Surin 2009: 70). Its principles have been applied unevenly, however, promoting the privatization of great swathes of publically-owned wealth in certain instances, while extending social safety nets to the wealthy wherever the demands of systemic stability require it. True to form, regulators have, in the course of the current crisis, demanded relatively little by way of reparation (Harvey 2011). And, notwithstanding the rise recently in Europe of parties like Syriza and Podemos, electorates have largely shied away from holding the world’s financial movers and shakers to account. Indeed, to pick one extreme case, the 2010 election in Ireland returned a centrist coalition, fully committed to austerity and one of the most spectacularly unjust and undemocratic transfers of wealth from taxpayers to foreign bondholders in history (McCabe 2011).

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