David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism: A Pre-Review

As I said, I’m enjoying David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism, but there are some gaffes in the book that bother me and prevent me from taking it entirely seriously.

For instance, Harvey states that Spain was on the brink of rejecting the neo-liberal way of development when the Socialists won overwhelmingly at the polls in 1982. This is absolutely untrue. The Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party never even considered, at any point whatsoever, the possibility of departing as much as half a millimeter from the neo-liberal path. I’ve been researching this very issue for months and there isn’t an iota of evidence suggesting that Spain was likely to leave the neo-liberal fold.

Harvey also says that after the fall of the USSR,

The countries of Eastern Europe and the CIS have registered some of the largest increases ever… in social inequality.

This is a statement that cannot possibly be supported by any data because there are no reliable records from the USSR attesting to the degrees of social inequality. I lived in the USSR and witnessed its collapse. I insist that there was no increase in inequality. It seemed to many that there were because inequality started to be shown on TV. Of course, I have no proof for this opinion, just like nobody has any proof to the contrary, which is why I won’t be putting this personal belief into any scholarly book.

To counterbalance the negative impression left by these gaffes, I will offer you a very interesting quote from Harvey on how the movement of ’68 was co-opted by neo-liberalism:

For almost everyone involved in the movement of ’68, the intrusive state was the enemy and it had to be reformed. And on that, the neoliberals could easily agree. But capitalist corporations, business, and the market system were also seen as primary enemies requiring redress if not revolutionary transformation: hence the threat to capitalist class power. By capturing ideals of individual freedom and turning them against the interventionist and regulatory practices of the state, capitalist class interests could hope to protect and even restore their position. Neoliberalism was well suited to this ideological task. But it had to be backed up by a practical strategy that emphasized the liberty of consumer choice, not only with respect to particular products but also with respect to lifestyles, modes of expression, and a wide range of cultural practices.

I lived in Ithaca, NY for a year and witnessed first-hand how joyously and successfully former hippies embraced the culture of consumerism. Harvey is definitely on to something here.

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Thursday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

I’ve always wondered why there is no promotion of me in my self-promotion encyclopedias, so this time I’m including a picture of me, looking shocked that yet again I have no online access at home and have to come to the office to work.

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Here is more proof why Ian Welsh and other idiot pro-Putin Lefties are total losers: “While the European Union has joined Washington in denouncing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the chaos stirred by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe’s right-wing populists have been gripped by a contrarian fever of enthusiasm for Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin.“Russian influence in the affairs of the far right is a phenomenon seen all over Europe,” said a study by the Political Capital Institute, a Hungarian research group.” Yes, Neo-Nazis are such a great company for a deluded Leftie to keep.

 

It is worth remembering that Peggy has very capably mimicked the “unladylike” behavior of Don when it comes to, for example, verbally abusing her underlings and then napping. And yet she cannot feign his supreme confidence.” Of course, everybody is entitled to his or her own reading, but I have no idea how anybody could see Don Draper as a “supremely confident” character. A “confident alcoholic” is an oxymoron if there ever was one, since alcoholism and drug addiction are coping mechanism for people with abysmally poor self-esteem and zero confidence.

A classic case of confusing one of the symptoms with a cause: “A laundry list of problems can come from obsessing over one’s appearance: eating disorders, depression, low self-worth.This is like saying, ‘I’m coughing, this must be because I have a fever’ instead of saying, “I’m coughing and have a fever, these are symptoms of a sickness.”

A growing trend in dining that is conquering even tiny towns, let alone huge cities: “Hospitality takes a holiday at establishments that don’t book. In effect, these restaurants are saying, “It’s more important for us to fill every seat than to treat diners like guests.” Think about it. Who invites people to dinner and then makes them wait until the cook is good and ready to let you in, much less eat? By not guaranteeing tables, restaurants dismiss whole groups of would-be patrons.” Still, the trend is not going away and the foodie culture is booming.

The top 3 weirdest things people believe about the Middle Ages.

A really great post from a male feminist.

All they had to do was help the homeowners. It wasn’t even a zero sum game. They could have helped homeowners and saved the banksters. They just didn’t want to.” Sure enough, given that the banksters are pretty much the only homeowners in this  country.

And what did I just predict for the future of US politics? “Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is set to appear on Duck Dynasty when the reality show returns to TV next month for its sixth season.  Jindal, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, defended family patriarch Phil Robertson’s right to free speech last year when he was briefly suspended by A&E for making anti-gay comments in a magazine interview.” I expected for the “Presidential Election Reality TV Show” to become reality in a few years, but here it is already.

Apartments make up nearly 40 percent of new homes developers are building today — the highest share in 40 years, according to a new Census Bureau report released Friday. The share of apartments in all new residential construction has increased most dramatically since 2009, with home builders betting that people are more keen on renting apartments than buying stand-alone houses.” How come I never manage to saddle any trend?

Mozilla is dead: “Mozilla breaks our hearts, adds DRM to Firefox.”

Ammon Shea performed a feat of nerdish athleticism, reading the entire Oxford English Dictionary, and then wrote a charming book about the experience.”

These life-hacking guides disturb me because they remind me too much of life in the USSR.

The daunting ineptitude of the Russians: “With an expensive communication satellite as its payload, a Russian Proton-M rocket broke apart during its third stage last night. The unmanned rocket failed at an altitude of 100 miles. . . This is the second mishap involving a Proton rocket in the past 12 months; one of the rocketsexploded shortly after liftoff last July. And another one broke apart in 2012, creating whatSpace.com called a “cloud of debris” — or space junk — in the atmosphere.”

And the post of the week: a very accessible and crucial explanation of the difference between sex and gender. As we all discovered recently, there are still many intellectual invalids who are unaware of this distinction.