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This introduction offers an extended reading of David Foster Wallace’s 2000 foray into political journalism, “Up, Simba,” which illustrates what will be the central claim of this book: that literary post-postmodernism is best understood as the means by which left-leaning writers negotiate the neoliberal turn — a version of, rather than an alternative to, this new consensus. To make that case, I trace connections between the communitarian logic of the so-called New Sincerity, the form of post-postmodernism most closely associated with Wallace, and the interventions of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats, who rejected key New Deal principles in favor of a "third way" between liberalism and conservativism. This introduction also historicizes "postcritique" and the various "post-ideological" accounts of neoliberal culture, accounts which, in my view, reproduce contemporary liberalism’s ambivalence about the free market and free-market politics, and therefore can be understood as symptomatic of the very changes they seek to interpret.
This chapter explores texts that articulate the differences and continuities between Reaganite neoliberalism, as represented by Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, and Clintonian neoliberalism, as represented in Clinton’s own speeches, Joe Klein’s Primary Colors, and the work of Mary Gaitskill. Clinton’s defense of welfare reform attaches a therapeutic rationale to right-wing ideals like “personal responsibility," and we see this same logic in in Gaitskill’s post-feminist interventions into ‘90s-era debates about female masochism and campus sex codes. We also see how this personalizing logic resolves political conflict in her novel Two Girls, Fat and Thin, in which what could be understood as an ideological disagreement about capitalism — the tension between a left-leaning journalist and a follower of a thinly-veiled version of Ayn Rand — proves to be a product of the two women’s failure to take "responsibility" for their own emotional experiences. In this chapter, I also examine how the logic of welfare-reform is contested by novels like Richard Price’s Clockers and Sapphire’s Push, both of which seek to demystify the “workfare” state’s idealization of legal, low-wage work.
The rise of liberal market economies, propagated by neoliberal free market thought, has created a vacant responsibility for public interests in the market order of society. This development has been critiqued by Catholic social teaching (CST), forcefully arguing that governments and businesses should be directed to the common good. In this debate, no attention has yet been given to the Reformational tradition and its principle of sphere sovereignty, which provides guidelines on the responsibilities of governments and companies for the public interest of society. This article analyzes the differences and similarities between CST and the Reformational philosophy in their critiques of the neoliberal free market perspective of Hayek. We apply the three perspectives to the case of orphan drugs in the pharmaceutical industry and show that CST and the Reformational philosophy offer valuable insights in correction to Hayek’s views on the responsibilities of governments and companies for public health interests.
Liberalism and American Literature in the Clinton Era argues that a new, post-postmodern aesthetic emerges in the 1990s as a group of American writers – including Mary Gaitskill, George Saunders, Richard Powers, Karen Tei Yamashita, and others – grapples with the political triumph of free-market ideology. The book shows how these writers resist the anti-social qualities of this frantic right-wing shift while still performing its essential gesture, the personalization of otherwise irreducible social antagonisms. Thus, we see these writers reinvent political struggles as differences in values and emotions, in fictions that explore non-antagonistic social forms like families, communities and networks. Situating these formally innovative fictions in the context of the controversies that have defined this rightward shift – including debates over free trade, welfare reform, and family values – Brooks details how American writers and politicians have reinvented liberalism for the age of pro-capitalist consensus.
Chapter 7 focuses on political parties as agents of representation that channel citizen interests and values into the policy-making process in contemporary Latin America. It illustrates the flaws of democracy without representative parties through a discussion of Peru, and shows that many Latin American democracies have experienced crises of representation because citizens see many party leaders as cut off from common citizens. To explain the state of parties, it argues that crises of representation persist when neoliberalism is treated as inevitable. It also maintains, through an analysis of parties in Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay, that parties become agents of representation due to the work of skillful political leaders, committed activists, and vigorous social movements. It also highlights that a weak state undermines party building because it limits the possibility that elected officials can deliver public goods and engender popular support. It concludes that, although democracy has become the norm in Latin America, few democracies have parties that act as agents of representation, and that this lack of a deep, substantive sense of representation is a key problem of democracy.
Chapter 5 describes and explains the state of democracy in contemporary Latin America. It shows that the most common problem of democracy is that democracies are low-quality or medium-quality ones. It stresses that even though Latin America has achieved and stabilized democracy, a notable success, it has not democratized fully. It also notes that democracy has broken down in some countries (e.g., Honduras, Venezuela). It argues that multiple factors account for the state of democracy in contemporary Latin America. Ideological differences over neoliberal economic policies have fueled some problems of democracy, as is shown in the cases of Honduras and Venezuela. Changes in various aspects of the international context have helped to stabilize democracies. Additionally, the region’s problems of democracy are also explained by some enduring features of Latin American politics: the exploitation of advantages that accrue to incumbency in political office, the influence of economic power, and the weakness of the state.
In Jordan, social order has historically emerged as a result of the regime’s laws, policies and institutions, but also as a result of practices established and modified from above and below. This chapter lays the ground for the book’s subsequent examination of how the Public Security Directorate intervenes into citizens’ lives and how citizens have recourse to the police, by tracing the emergence of several hegemonic projects in the Kingdom. These projects are largely grounded in the nature of patron–client alliances forged since the establishment of the modern state between the Hashemites and the East Bank Transjordanian population on the one hand, and Western liberal democracies on the other. Whilst uneven and increasingly amalgamated, these alliances have supported the dissemination of a tribal order, which for several decades enjoyed a large degree of hegemonic consent. and more recently a ‘neoliberal-civic’ order, which is facing an appreciable counter-hegemonic pushback from below and paradoxically fostering an increased reliance on kinship networks.
Chapter 4 addresses how Latin America has sought to generate socioeconomic welfare since 1880 by making choices about the model of economic development – the region’s strategy to promote economic growth and the material well-being of the populations as a whole. It identifies three periods during which the region adopted distinct models of economic development and assesses the performance of each model. The first model, the market-oriented agro-export model, led to moderate but unequal progress – a mixture of moderate economic growth, a slight improvement in absolute levels of welfare, and an increase in economic inequality. The second model, the statist import-substitution industrialization model, produced strong progress – good economic growth, a big improvement in absolute levels of welfare, and a decrease in economic inequality. Finally, the third model, the market-oriented neoliberal model, still used in the region, has yielded slow progress – languid economic growth, a slight improvement in absolute levels of welfare, and a small reduction in economic inequality. The chapter shows that the question of what is the best development model for Latin America remains open.
In the wake of the ‘golden age’ of economic growth in the early 1970s, public provision of urban infrastructure came under the close scrutiny of governments seeking to reduce the size of their bureaucracies in the face of expanding budgets, rising prices, and increasing unemployment. Australian governments and water utilities followed the UK and USA by introducing price mechanisms to attain more efficient water use. This coincided with severe droughts that affected urban water supplies and led state governments to impose residential water restrictions, save for Brisbane, where catastrophic floods in 1974 reminded residents of their vulnerability to the elements. Growing concern for the environment, as well as the implications of environmental degradation for human health, meant that the sights, smells, and sounds of the Australian suburbs were on the eve of change. The use of suburban waterways as drains for industrial and domestic waste would no longer be tolerated, as local residents campaigned to protect built and natural environments from pollution and development projects. Such health and ecological concerns collided with the neoliberal reform agenda of the 1990s, when newly restructured water utilities faced a series of crises in their provision of water and disposal of wastes.
Human rights have become a principle and a value that have increasingly gained the support of various segments of society. Human rights are often associated with democracy, the rule of law, the civilizing process and human dignity. They are also associated with the idea that everyone, anywhere and regardless of their citizenship status, has basic rights, which must be respected by others and the state (see, among others, Sen, 2004).
This paper uses the perspective of “state-led neoliberal modernization” to explore the collusion of the state and the market in the construction of scientific motherhood and its effect on rural nannies in China. It claims that the state and the market work together to shape rural nannies’ modern subjectivity in the neoliberal economy through the commercial training programme of scientific motherhood. Based on a case study in Shanghai, this paper argues that the training for scientific motherhood attempts to transform rural women into modern care workers through two mechanisms: reconstructing recognition and mobilizing emotion. Rather than passively receiving the training, nannies use their agency to adjust the knowledge and practice of scientific motherhood to suit their complicated working situation. Their strategies include deploying scientific knowledge flexibly and instrumentally, practising self-restraint in limited intimacy, and paying attention to their own familial investment.
This chapter discusses the contributions and limits of the approach described in this book and summarizes the book’s main themes. These themes include the necessity and value for multiple constituencies of a more coordinated, rights-based approach to the design of care and support policy and the challenges of pursuing rights-based reform in Australia, England and the other liberal welfare states, especially in light of the ongoing processes of neoliberal marketization, individualization of responsibility, prioritization of ‘active’ citizenship and, in much of the world, the now entrenched resource constraints associated with austerity. Ultimately, I argue that the principles can make a practical contribution to efforts to build solidarity between care and support constituencies, challenge prevailing norms of citizenship that prioritize independence and paid work participation and establish care and support as accepted and valued activities of citizenship.
While there are some signs of revitalization, social democracy has witnessed a deep electoral crisis over the last decades. The causes for the decline of social democratic parties are highly contested among researchers. This article provides a systematic review of the literature which spans several fields such as party politics, political sociology and political economy. Four kinds of explanations (sociological, materialist, ideational and institutional) are distinguished and scrutinized on the basis of empirical studies published since 2010. The findings indicate that there is not one explanation that stands out but that the electoral crisis of social democracy is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes, such as socio-structural changes, fiscal austerity and neoliberal depolarization. In addition, the findings suggest that a liberal turn on sociocultural issues does not necessarily lead to vote losses. Further research should explore more deeply how short-term and long-term factors have worked together in the process of social democratic decline.
The repeated circulation of anti-welfare discourses has served to encourage limited and often incorrect public understandings of issues pertaining to welfare. Central to these processes is the social construction of notions of ‘deservedness’ and ‘undeservedness.’ In this article we examine the 2017 ‘Welfare Cheats, Cheat Us All’ (original emphasis) campaign initiated by the Department of Social Protection in the Republic of Ireland. We present our analysis of the dominant discourses evident in the campaign itself and the in-house discussions in the lead up to the campaign. Our article shows that this Irish campaign rehearses a familiar international discourse which follows distinct patterns or rules, and we evidence, in keeping with other moral panics, the spurious nature of the data being used to exaggerate the scale and extent of welfare ‘fraud’.
Economics takes the view from the present. But as people become affluent, they care more for the future, which is what government provides for. In the twentieth century, government has grown faster than the economy, and even Conservative governments have failed to wind it down. The reason is that markets take the short view and cannot provide for the future on their own. Before the nineteenth century, interest was seen as usury, rent as parasitical, and profit as exploitation. In response, the neoclassical economics of the 1870s came to the defence of privilege: property was legitimate, interest and profit were the cost of patience, the reward for capitalist energy and enterprise. Markets were the natural order, government and taxes parasitical. Since the 1980s governments have embraced markets as enterprising, innovative, efficient, superior. But privatisation, deregulation, and outsourcing have not fulfilled their promise. Government has not gone away. An outline of the book concludes.
This paper analyzes a housing project in Santiago, Chile that now lies in ruins and has become a contested memory site. The project was once an ambitious, modernist project that housed former squatters during Salvador Allende’s socialist presidency (1970–1973) and its demise has subsequently become emblematic of the violent processes of neoliberal urban restructuring that marked the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973–1990). Yet efforts to memorialize the site also contain within them certain silences and elisions, gaps which can help to reveal the complex, embedded nature of liberal property relations in Chile. These relations underscore certain dynamics through which squatters have historically been able to gain housing rights and a foothold in the city. They also provide a key location through which to better understand the specific contours of neoliberalism’s trajectory, including its haunted forms of ruination, its points of tension, its limits, and the making of its counterpublics.
How have British cities changed in the years since the Second World War? And what drove this transformation? This innovative new history traces the development of the post-war British city, from the 1940s era of reconstruction, through the rise and fall of modernist urban renewal, up to the present-day crisis of high street retailing and central area economies. Alistair Kefford shows how planners, property developers, councils and retailers worked together to create the modern shopping city, remaking the physical fabric, economy and experience of cities around this retail-driven developmental model. This book also offers a wider social history of mass affluence, showing how cities were transformed to meet the perceived demands of a society of shoppers, and why this effort was felt to be so urgent in an era of urban deindustrialisation. By bringing the story of the shopping city right up to its present-day crisis and collapse, Kefford makes clear how the historical trajectories traced in this book continue powerfully to shape urban Britain today.
This chapter analyzes the transformations in Argentinean society since the 1970s, describing how the symbolic and material repercussions of deindustrialization concentrated on vulnerable segments of the population. Neoliberal reforms not only undermined the means of sustenance for poor families but also dislocated much of the taken-for-granted attitudes and habits that organized life in working-class neighborhoods. Regardless of their specific experiences, respondents highlight that when jobs were plentiful life was difficult yet predictable. Residents of poor areas had a sense of what they needed to do in order to make a living, keep their relatives safe, and accumulate resources. Widespread joblessness, state neglect, and violence affected the set of agreed-upon expectations and meanings at the core of working-class culture, which allowed people to organize their daily lives and interact with each other with a degree of confidence.
In this chapter, I examine the evolution of US democracy aid in Egypt through the eyes of the diplomats, practitioners, and bureaucrats engaged with such efforts in Egypt. I focus on the practical construction of democracy aid on the ground and the struggles undertaken by different actors to implement aid programs in an authoritarian state. I examine how ideas, interests, and institutions engaged in such aid evolved since 1990s to shape a kind of reform more attuned to the commercial and economic interests of the US and Egyptian governments rather than those of citizens in the country. In the first section, I focus on the nature of authoritarianism in Egypt, tracing its origins since the Nasser era to describe how power has since been exercised and maintained. In the second section, I examine how US democracy aid evolved in Egypt, focusing on the debates and discussions at the inception of USAID’s programs.