Archive for the ‘Neoliberalism’ Category

The Birth of Austerity. German Ordoliberalism and Contemporary Neoliberalism
Edited by Thomas Biebricher and Frieder Vogelmann, Rowman & Littlefield.

Publication Date: Sep 2017

Ordoliberalism and the ‘Freiburg School’ have gained traction in contemporary political economy in response to two factors: a rising interest in governmentality studies and the banking, financial and sovereign debt crisis in Europe. In the face of these crises, Germany has assumed a position of quasi-hegemony in the European Union, making decisions about bailouts, the politics of crisis management and the rise of austerity.

This volume gathers together English translations of seminal ordoliberal texts by thinkers ranging from Walter Eucken and Wilhelm Röpke to Franz Böhm, Alexander Rüstow and Hans Grossmann-Doerth. Offering some foundational insights into ordoliberalism, these essays give insight into a field that is much misunderstood outside Germany. The second half of the book comprises of analyses of contemporary issues in light of ordoliberal thought, showing how its ideas endure and relate directly to austerity policy across Europe.

– – – Praise for The Birth of Austerity: German Ordoliberalism and Contemporary Neoliberalism – – –

“This book is indispensable reading for everyone interested in current debates on institutional economics, economic policy, the crisis of the Euro, and the role of Germany in it. It assembles several master texts from the Ordoliberal School, most of which were never published in English, and provides a lucid introduction into a widely unknown “Third Way” tradition in economic theory and policy.”
Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne

“An excellent handbook on the influential and peculiar German version of neoliberalism. It contains classical texts as well as contemporary analyses of the content and impact of ordoliberalism by leading scholars. No one can understand European politics today without knowledge about ordoliberalism. This book is a good starting point.”
Professor Peter Nedergaard, Ph.D., Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen

“Understanding the tenets and implications of Ordoliberalism is essential for grasping what is happening in European political economy and governance today. The Birth of Austerity provides this understanding through its carefully selected and translated works by the Ordoliberals themselves and its fine ensemble of analyses by contemporary critical thinkers. The introduction by Biebricher and Vogelmann is a model of clarity and insight. This is an important and immensely useful volume.”
Wendy Brown, University of California, Berkeley


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“What Do You Want Me to Regret?”: An Interview with François Ewald
Johannes Boehme interviews François Ewald, Los Angeles Review of Books, 3 November 2017

NOBODY COULD HAVE PREDICTED, in 1968, that François Ewald would one day receive the French state’s highest order for civil merit. At the time he was a young, ambitious, and radical philosophy student. He became a Maoist, demonstrated in the streets of Paris, and witnessed the violence that followed. In the early 1970s he went to the countryside. There he found himself swept up in one of France’s most notorious criminal scandals, the “Affaire Bruay-en-Artois.” A young miners’ daughter was killed, a lawyer was arrested (and later released), and the radical left staged mass demonstrations against “class violence.” It was then, in the small town of Bruay-en-Artois, that he first met Michel Foucault. Soon Ewald would become Foucault’s assistant at the Collège de France and one of his closest associates.

Ewald wrote a masterful 600-page dissertation, supervised by Foucault, on the history of the French welfare state. Foucault, who died in June 1984, never got to read the final version. After Foucault’s death, Ewald became the de facto executor of his estate. He edited most of his unfinished manuscripts and lectures. He also took a job in an unlikely field for a Foucauldian: the insurance industry. He struck up relationships with captains of industry like Claude Bébéar, the founder of AXA, and Denis Kessler, the CEO of SCOR, a French financial services company. In 2006 he received the Légion d’honneur.

And during the early 2000s his views seemed to change as well. He became a vocal advocate for liberal reforms of the French welfare state. He opposed the introduction of the 35-hour workweek and argued for the privatization of the pension-system.


Where did [Foucault’s] interest in liberalism come from?

His interest wasn’t ideological. It was a way to criticize traditional political philosophy. He didn’t study liberalism out of personal conviction, but as a way of passage — to get a clearer sense of what government actually meant. He was drawn to it, because it was so relevant to understand the contemporary situation. But he was much more interested in its epistemology than its politics. To read his lectures on liberalism as a statement of approval makes absolutely no sense. But on the other hand, there is a complication. Foucault didn’t believe in socialism. He wanted to criticize government practices. And liberalism at the time was one avenue of government-critique in France. But only one among many.

Recently there has been a heated debate about Michel Foucault’s attitude toward neoliberalism. The sociologist Daniel Zamora accused Foucault of adhering to neoliberal ideas. Do you agree?

Let me tell you two things. First of all, I am completely fed up with this entire discussion. Secondly, in terms of actual evidence, the claim that Michel Foucault held neoliberal views is just so far-fetched. Look, during those weeks in which Foucault was lecturing about liberalism at the Collège de France, he also visited Ayatollah Khomeini at Neauphle-le-Château. The Iranian Revolution happened shortly afterward and Foucault was particularly interested in the events in Tehran. He was fascinated by the fact that people were willing to die for a religious idea in the streets of Tehran! But nobody would say that he became a militant supporter of the Iranian Revolution. Based on the evidence it doesn’t make more sense to say that Foucault was a closet neoliberal, either.


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Manathunga, C., Selkrig, M., Sadler, K., Keamy, K.
Rendering the paradoxes and pleasures of academic life: using images, poetry and drama to speak back to the measured university
(2017) Higher Education Research and Development, 36 (3), pp. 526-540.

DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2017.1289157

Measurement of academic work has become more significant than the intellectual, pedagogical, cultural, political and social practices in which academics and students engage. This shifting emphasis creates paradoxes for academics. They experience a growing sense of disconnection between their desires to develop students into engaged, disciplined and critical citizens and the activities that appear to count in the enterprise university. As measurement discourses preclude the possibilities of human emotion and hinder intellectual labour, we embarked on an arts-informed research project that established new creative spaces for our colleagues to illustrate the pleasures and paradoxes of their academic work. In the research project, we developed critical pedagogies through art and poetry that enabled academics to speak back to university management–and each other–about how they experience their work. In this paper, we draw upon poststructural ‘micro-physics’ of power, the poststructuralist ‘politics of reinscription’, and art, poetry and drama as critical pedagogies to interrogate the potential of arts-informed research to speak back to the measured university. The key contribution of this article is to recommend arts-informed methodologies as a forum for dissent and resistance at a time when the spaces of collegiality, pleasure and democracy in the measured university are under attack. © 2017 HERDSA.

Author Keywords
academic work; arts-informed research; critical pedagogies; Foucault; neoliberal university

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Lloro-Bidart, T.
Neoliberal and disciplinary environmentality and ‘sustainable seafood’ consumption: storying environmentally responsible action
(2017) Environmental Education Research, 23 (8), pp. 1182-1199.

DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1105198

This article invokes a neoliberal and disciplinary governmentality lens in a political ecology of education framework to analyze educational programming at Long Beach, California’s Aquarium of the Pacific. I begin by briefly describing governmentality as Foucault and neo-Foucauldian scholars have theorized the concept, followed by a discussion of the emergence of green governmentality and environmentality in political ecology. Next, I invoke a political ecology of education framework informed by neoliberal and disciplinary environmentality to analyze institutional and teaching practice at the Aquarium. In this analysis, I demonstrate how the institution’s funding structure, placement within the entertainment markets of the southern California area, and commitment to ocean conservation education all influence how the Aquarium conceptualizes itself and its work. I focus on the case of the Blue Cavern Show and the Seafood for the Future program, which work in tandem to define a problem (declining fish stocks; possible seafood shortages) and then structure a neoliberal solution through the market (sustainable seafood consumption). I conclude by discussing the implications of this research for environmental education, which include unpacking how neoliberalism impacts teaching practice, especially as it relates to notions of framing environmentally responsible action. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Author Keywords
informal education; neoliberalism; political ecology; zoos

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Mavelli, L.
Governing the resilience of neoliberalism through biopolitics
(2017) European Journal of International Relations, 23 (3), pp. 489-512.

DOI: 10.1177/1354066116676321

Neoliberalism is widely regarded as the main culprit for the 2007/2008 global financial crisis. However, despite this abysmal failure, neoliberalism has not merely survived the crisis, but actually ‘thrived’. How is it possible to account for the resilience of neoliberalism? Existing scholarship has answered this question either by focusing on the distinctive qualities of neoliberalism (such as adaptability, internal coherence and capacity to incorporate dissent) or on the biopolitical capacity of neoliberalism to produce resilient subjects. This article adopts a different perspective. Drawing on and partially challenging the perspective of Michel Foucault, I argue that neoliberalism and biopolitics should be considered two complementary governmental rationalities, and that biopolitical rationalities contribute to governing the uncertainties and risks stemming from the neoliberalization of life. Biopolitics, in other words, plays a key role in governing the resilience of neoliberalism. Through this conceptual lens, the article explores how biopolitical rationalities of care have been deployed to govern the neoliberal crisis of the Greek sovereign debt, which threatened the stability of the European banking system and, I shall argue, the neoliberal life, wealth and well-being of the European population. The article discusses how biopolitical racism is an essential component of the biopolitical governance of neoliberalism. Biopolitical racism displaces the sources of risk, dispossession and inequality from the neoliberal regime to ‘inferior’ populations, whose lack of compliance with neoliberal dictates is converted into a threat to our neoliberal survival. This threat deserves punishment and authorizes further dynamics of neoliberal dispossession. © 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.

Author Keywords
Biopolitics; Foucault; governmentality; Greek sovereign debt crisis; neoliberalism; resilience

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William Davies, What Is “Neo” About Neoliberalism?, New Republic, July 13, 2017

How to tell the difference between liberalism and something else.

In the buildup to the 2015 General Election, Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), reiterated his support for an “Australian-style points system” as a means of controlling immigration, the policy issue that his party had prioritized above all others. What was curious about Farage’s statement was not the policy commitment itself, which had been known for some time, but the liberal rhetoric that he used to justify it. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Farage argued “what UKIP wants is not to do down migrants. It’s not to stigmatize, or discourage, or blame people for coming to this country and trying to make a better life for themselves” and that the “points system” is the only fair basis for managing immigration.


Firstly, neoliberalism has never pursued a weaker state; indeed it is a political philosophy and policy agenda that has always looked to the state to reshape society around its ideals. As Michel Foucault went to great lengths to stress, it is not another form of laissez-faire and, instead, grants the state a key role in shaping how economic freedom is to be defined and instantiated. So, in the case of immigration, the liberal notion that economic welfare will be maximized by simply throwing open the national labor market to all-comers would be resisted from a neoliberal perspective. It is entirely plausible, from a neoliberal perspective, that the state might seek to regulate something like labor flows, to serve certain strategic economic goals.

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Paul Sutton, Lost souls? The demoralization of academic labour in the measured university, Higher Education Research & Development Vol. 36 , Iss. 3,2017
DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2017.1289365

In this conceptual paper, I contend that the soul of academic labour is becoming lost in performativity. Performativity, I explain, is a form of regulation and control that deploys technical rationality and judgements to incentivize and punish academics. Indeed, performativity is central to the culture of measurement within contemporary universities. This, I contend, is demoralizing academic labour as performativity only measures and values those dimensions of academic labour that can be captured by quantitative performance indicators. To critique this process, I firstly locate performativity within a moral economy perspective. I argue that the university economy is no longer structured by the moral norm of education as a public good. It has been restructured, commodified and marketized by neo-liberal capitalism. Secondly, I explore how the reorganization of institutional practices and academic identity within the university by performativity wreaks terror in the academic’s soul. Thirdly, I critique the unsatisfying post-structural reduction of the soul to a synonym for subjectivity and offer a sociological conception of the soul as the spiritual dimension of academic labour emerging from deep, rich social relations of production. My conjecture is that the soul is the moral energy and purpose central to species-being: the peculiarly human ability to transform the socio-human world for the good of all. Finally, I suggest that within the soulless technical measure of academic labour that now dominates the university lies the possibility for developing a more soulful normative measure. My aim then is to articulate a dialectical humanist conception of the soul of academic labour in order to critique the reductive positivism of the measured university.

KEYWORDS: Academic labour, dialectical humanism, performativity, soul, species-being

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