Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown

By Brebenel, Serban | The Journal of Philosophical Economics, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown


Brebenel, Serban, The Journal of Philosophical Economics


Review of Philip Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown, New York, Verso, 1st edition, 2013, ISBN: 978-1-781-68079-7, 384 pages

Philip Mirowski's work is an important contribution to the post-2008 crisis economic literature. The book aims to show how Neoliberalism (or the Neoliberal Thought Collective - NTC, as it is referred to here) took over aspects of society beyond the economy and became integrated in everyday societal life, to the degree to which neoliberal thinkers were able to manipulate evidence and realities.

One of the great themes of the book is the concept of 'Russian dolls'. In order to explain how Neoliberalism became so influential, Mirowski introduces the 'Russian dolls' as a concept, essentially agents of influence in favor of Neoliberalism that operate at the societal level in the United States, from think-tanks, to politicians to the media. The doll in the very core of this interlocking system is represented by the Mont Pelerin Society, a Neoliberal laboratory of ideas.

This innermost doll was subsequently wrapped in a favorable rhetorical campaign aimed to promote Neoliberalism. The theory and ideas were there, the next phase, as Mirowski shows, was to make them acceptable for the masses as a mainstream current. To Mirowski, the acceptance and embrace of Neoliberalism came as a result of its resonance with basic American principles, such as the laissez-faire. Neoliberalism relied on ideas such as promoting entrepreneurship and reduced government to resonate with many of the Americans for whom all these were principles of successful leadership. To the degree to which this was initially an economic current and a public policy approach, it is now today a cultural and societal expression. This is the primary reason for which Neoliberalism remains so successful today, despite the economic and financial crisis it has passed through.

After presenting some general considerations on the crisis in chapter 1, Mirowski goes down history lane in Chapter 2 ('Shock Block Doctrine') in order to present to the reader key incipient figures of Neoliberalism (primarily Friedrich von Hayek) who shared a common belief: all economic issues could be solved by further encouraging the development of free markets.

The acceptance of Neoliberalism at the societal level is a result of the interlocking relationship between different entities, from corporations to the government to the individual and academic institutions. The informational society in which we live today is fundamentally and culturally Neoliberal, it favors the free flow of information, increased communication through new forms and platforms of interaction and so on. Mirowski's belief is that Neoliberalism has become an everyday activity for the masses, redefining today's society, and he argues this throughout chapter 3 ('Everyday Neoliberalism'), using an analysis of French philosopher Michel Foucault and various views on today's American society.

It is also, in Mirowski's view, a gross manipulation of realities by the Neoliberals, as emphasized in chapter 5 of the book. The manipulation is done perfectly, because reality is not only altered, but new realities are actually created for the individual. The author resumes his argument from chapter 2, per which 'the relation of the control of knowledge to political power has been a neoliberal specialty' (p. 242). He quotes a Bush administration official saying, in 2002, that, embracing its new quality as a global empire, when the US acts, 'we create our own reality' and that 'while you are studying that reality, we'll act again, creating other new realities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.