Book Notes: The Neoliberal Paradox

The negatives of Ray Kiely’s The Neoliberal Paradox (2018) are:

– endless signposting. There is a ton of buildup where the author promises to announce something earth-shattering at some future point (but not before he reiterates everything he already said five times). But the big revelation always turns out to be something quite trivial.

– too much quoting. It’s great that Kiely collected absolutely anything anybody ever said about neoliberalism. But there is almost none of author’s own text in the book. It’s just quotes connected by signposting.

– a ridiculous amount of repetition.

– Kiely knows he needs to talk about the Third World if he wants to discuss neoliberalism. He knows it and he says so. But he finds anything but the UK and the US deathly boring, so he always ends up saying “to understand how this works in underdeveloped countries, it’s important first to discuss the UK.” After 120 pages of the minutest detail on the UK, though, everything else is forgotten.

– the author tries to make an argument that British Brexiteers are more neoliberal than the Remainers. And that Bernie Sanders is less neoliberal than any other politician because “he’s unlikely” to use market principles in governance. Which is a childish argument.

And now for the big reveal. What is the neoliberal paradox that Kiely promises to unveil to the world at the end of 300+ very repetitive pages?

Ready for it?

Really ready for it?

OK, here goes.

The paradox is that neoliberals decry government yet they also need it to advance their preferred policies.

Yeah. Not exactly earth-shatteringly new information but yes, whatever. This point has only been made a million times before, so why not make it again.

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