8 reasons not to use the term ‘neo-liberalism’

I went to a conference (see my critique here) that had some nuggets of gold. One of them was a short and engaging presentation by one Bill Dunn. There’s a longer paper that I hope to link to, but for now, based on scribbled notes, here are those 8 reasons

1. The term is used so widely as to be impossibly vague
2. Internal (international) experiences of social change are too dissimilar to have the same label (cited Andrew Glynn, Captialism unleashed)
3. Term of abuse/opprobrium – could just as easily substitute ‘nasty’ or ‘horrid’ used almost exclusively by the academic left
4. Our opponents don’t accept the term
5. Most folks don’t speak ancient Greek – what doe neo’ mean…
6. Nothing new in neoliberalism. There’s some complicated maths, but basically it’s the same asocial methods/assumptions. Old practices in new bottles
7. Nothing liberal in neolieralism
8. It’s politically disabling, in that it has you arguing for softer forms of (old, social democratic) capitalism

I am ambivalent about this – I am in a [currently stalled] reading binge on Neoliberalism (David Harvey is a good starting point, btw), but there was sense in what Dunn said.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “8 reasons not to use the term ‘neo-liberalism’

Add yours

  1. If not already on your list.William Davies take makes a lot of sense to me.

    =========
    excerpt:
    Will Davies is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London and blogs at http://www.potlatch.org.uk. His book, The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition,

    Interview here:
    http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/neoliberalism_and_the_end_of_politics

    An interview excerpt: ‘What I argue is that neoliberalism is about the extension of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation into various non-market domains, including the state, cultural institutions and social institutions. It’s the expansion of forms of evaluation and forms of measurement and forms of judgement which tend to originate in and around the market, but which are pushed into the domains which lie traditionally outside of it. There are a couple of ways in which this is done.’

  2. The excerpt and link below somehow failed to post yesterday. Checked back and noticed it wasn’t there. Meant to preceded the other comment I made. Weird.

    Anyways… if you have not yet got Davies on your list, might be useful.

    Davies analysis makes sense to me. Seems useful for understanding what happened here in AB and Canada as I know it.
    Sam
    =================
    http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/neoliberalism_and_the_end_of_politics#When:06:59:04Z

    Neoliberalism and the End of Politics
    by Will Davies, Tom Mills
    In the first of a two part interview, Will Davies discusses his book ‘The Limits of Neoliberalism’.

    Will Davies is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London and blogs at http://www.potlatch.org.uk. His book, The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition, published this year, explores how economic measurements and expertise have been used to re-model society and the state along competitive lines, and argues that the neoliberal conflation of economics and politics has ultimately undermined the legitimacy of sovereign power. In the first of a two part interview, he discusses the book with NLP’s Tom Mills.

    What’s new in your book? What’s original about your approach to neoliberalism?
    The way in which I define neoliberalism is that it’s not primarily about opening up markets, or about deregulation or privatisation, and it’s not about shrinking the state. What I argue is that neoliberalism is about the extension of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation into various non-market domains, including the state, cultural institutions and social institutions. It’s the expansion of forms of evaluation and forms of measurement and forms of judgement which tend to originate in and around the market, but which are pushed into the domains which lie traditionally outside of it.

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