Booked #3: What Exactly is Neoliberalism?
Timothy Shenk ▪ Dissent, April 2, 2015
Booked is a monthly series of Q&As with authors by Dissent contributing editor Timothy Shenk. For this interview, he spoke with Wendy Brown about her new book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Zone Books, 2015).
Climate change, a crippled welfare state, the 2008 financial crisis, skyrocketing income inequality, political disappointments reaching back decades, terrible superhero movies grossing billions of dollars, and Tinder—these are just a few of the sins attributed to neoliberalism. But what exactly is neoliberalism? An economic doctrine? The revenge of capitalism’s ruling class? Or something even more insidious?
Wendy Brown takes up these questions, and more, in her latest work, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. A searching inquiry, the book is part historical study, part philosophical treatise, and part engaged polemic. Scholarship on neoliberalism is booming, but Undoing the Demos highlights a subject too often neglected: the political consequences of viewing the world as an enormous marketplace. Her conclusions are grim, but that makes grappling with them all the more urgent.