Anti-politics and the illusions of neoliberalism

We live in anti-political times. After a twentieth century in which Western societies experienced the rise and entrenchment of mass representative institutions, where hundreds of millions of people accepted that politics was the main way to have their social interests advanced, these arrangements have ever more obviously fallen into disrepair, decay and even frank breakdown.

The latest issue of Oxford Left Review has a number of engaging articles on the nature and consequences of neoliberalism.

Neil Davidson from the University of Glasgow examines the changing social base of neoliberalism, where he explores the shift from vanguard to ‘social’ neoliberalism and the relationship of the latter to the middle classes. Matt Myers, from the LSE, writes on the breaking of the British working class in the neoliberal era and emphasises placing working class experience at the centre of any examination. Thomas Presskorn-Thygensen considers what features allow us to call something ‘neoliberal’, asking why neoliberalism has proven resilient — the ‘strange non-death of neoliberalism’ even after the 2008 economic crisis.

While these three articles tend to emphasise the strength and power of neoliberalism, a piece by Tad Tietze and myself asks about the antinomies and fractures of neoliberalism exhibited in the process of ‘anti-politics’. This is a question we have been considering for some time, as we seek to appreciate a range of political features and events across advances capitalist countries (see here and here). You can read the full version of our article in the latest issue.


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