Book Notes: Jim McGuigan’s Neoliberal Culture
McGuigan’s Neoliberal Culture was clearly composed out of a bunch of articles and conference talks, which is why it’s repetitive to the point of a few passages being repeated verbatim up to half a dozen times. This is not a bad thing because it will make for a fantastic textbook. There is no better way to make students learn than repetition.
I love the way McGuigan writes. His writing is very light on the jargon, sarcastic, direct, and clear. He gives great examples from the truly insane world of British cultural production to illustrate his points.
I also appreciate McGuigan’s truly unique capacity not to ignore the painfully obvious in service of ideological commitments. He is as Marxist as they get but he states very clearly that it’s no coincidence that the greatest advances for women coincided with the neoliberal epoch. There is a direct connection since the foundational ideas of neoliberalism are the ideas of feminism (importance of individual choice, primacy of individual desires over communal needs or mandates of tradition).
McGuigan says that the neoliberal ideology has managed to make itself commonsense by integrating disaffection. I always wondered why people in opulent societies are so into complaining. And now I know: the apocalyptic mindset is neoliberalism’s safety valve.
There are many ways in which neoliberal ideology conquers minds and none of us are immune. We can’t stand outside of ideology but we can catch glimpses of how it operates. And this is what McGuigan does brilliantly in his book.