Sunday, June 5, 2011

A primer on neoliberalism

For those wondering what I might mean by neoliberalism, Sherry Ortner's brief primer is must-reading (h/t BLCKDGRD). She does a decent job, I think, in laying out the historical context in which neoliberalism evolved. She also spends some time noting that if we were to look at writers prior to the start of this century, we'd most likely see a discussion of late capitalism instead (that was the term I typically saw in the postmodernist writings of the time). As an aside, a friend of mine who is an Ethnic Studies researcher (more specifically, Native American Studies) used to use the term predatory capitalism. Regardless of terminology, the phenomenon - a shift in the nature of capitalism starting sometime in the 1970s-1980s and continuing to the present day - is fairly easy to identify. Ortner offers her readers a few rays of hope toward the end, though I think she is expecting more from rags like the NYT than one could reasonably expect. Check her bibliography for further reading. This is one of those situations where what you don't know helps our CEO class to hurt you.

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