A Brief History of Neoliberalism

Book by David Harvey

Review by Thom Hartmann, originally published at buzzflash.com on September 24, 2007.

Here's the bad news - most Americans don't know what "neoliberalism" is.

But the good news is that David Harvey has written the most brilliant, concise, and clear history of neoliberalism I've ever found. It should be required reading in every civics class in high-school and college in America, and everybody who votes or considers themselves informed about politics and economics (and the intersection of the two) should have a dog-eared copy next to their bed or favorite chair for regular re-reading.

Harvey begins with the imposition of neoliberalism - a radical economic/political theory that everything will work out optimally if only the power of democratic governments are reduced to virtually nothing and the power of economic elites (known as "the free market") hold most power in society - in Iraq and Chile. Iraq was going to be the Great Example for the neoliberals - they were so convinced of their theory that they didn't have a Plan B for any time after the invasion - and it utterly failed. Which is why you only read about the Iraq experiment in neoliberalism in books written by the few people, like Harvey and Naomi Klein, who have noticed it.
In Chile it was forced on the people, through the dictatorship of Pinochet. In The United States it came into being through subterfuge, through an alliance of big business and inherited wealth funding think tanks and media to change the minds and thinking of Americans to accept the notions of the "free market" and the idea that "big government" is a bad thing. It's being peddled in Europe with considerable success (it started in '79 with Thatcher two years before Reagan put it into place here in the US), with France the most recent country to fall with the election of Sarkosy.
While full of facts and figures and details (at least a third of the pages in my copy of this book are dog-eared and marked up), Harvey's "Brief History of Neoliberalism" is marvelously readable. In some ways it almost reads like a thriller - what will these people do next? And over and over again we see not only how they screw things up, but how they work those screw-ups to their own advantage. Neoliberalism, after all, is all about the economic and power elites taking more and more of the resources, income, and small-d democratic power away from the masses. David Harvey has produced a classic book.

It's an absolute must-read. It'll totally change the way you understand the news (particularly the news you'll find in The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times), and your opinion of the behaviors of your elected officials.

Get at least two copies - it's an inexpensive paperback and you'll want one to read, and one to give away ...

Will American Elections Ever Again Be Legitimate?

Thom plus logo Only an established, legal "right to vote" can defeat Republican voter suppression.

Republican politicians and conservative commentators are shocked, shocked! that Chief Justice John Roberts would say that people who voted before election day in Pennsylvania but their ballots were delayed by Lewis DeJoy's sabotage of the Post Office should have their vote counted.
From Screwed:
"If we are going to live in a Democracy, we need to have a healthy middle class. Thom Hartmann shows us how the ‘cons’ have wronged this country, and tells us what needs to be done to reclaim what it is to be American."
Eric Utne, Founder, Utne magazine
From Screwed:
"Once again, Thom Hartmann hits the bull’s eye with a much needed exposé of the so-called ‘free market.’ Anyone concerned about the future of our nation needs to read Screwed now."
Michael Toms, Founding President, New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time For Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy
From Screwed:
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While