Neoliberal energies

Crisis, governance and hegemony

Authored by: Matthew Huber

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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When discussing the shift to neoliberalism a number of scholars focus on a single year: 1973 (e.g. Harvey 2005:12). This is not only the year the soon to be neoliberal reformer Augusto Pinochet was installed in Chile, but it is also the year of the Arab oil embargo. The concomitant quadrupling of oil prices and iconic experiences of petrol shortages in the USA is seen as plunging much of industrial capitalist world into a crisis characterized by both recession and inflation or ‘stagflation’. It is this economic context which provided the fertile breeding grounds for neoliberal ideas to take hold; or, as Naomi Klein (2007: 7) famously recounts the words of Milton Friedman, ‘only a crisis – real or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.’ In one sense, the crisis that ushered in neoliberal hegemony (see Plehwe 2016) was an energy crisis. This, by itself, means there is a need for a careful analysis of the relationship between energy and neoliberalism. Yet, as I will argue in this chapter, the relations between neoliberalism run even deeper than that.

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