Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution

By Pârvu, Camil-Alexandru | Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review, October 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution


Pârvu, Camil-Alexandru, Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review


WENDY BROWN Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution Zone Books, New York, 2015, 296 pp.

Wendy Brown's new book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution (Zone Books, 2015) marks a rich and insightful contribution to the increasingly substantial social science literature that, for a number of years already, tries to pin down the nature and significance of neoliberalism. The present book produces a revised and extended set of arguments concerning the impact of neoliberalism on some of the foundational aspects of contemporary democracy, arguments that began to be developed in her previous work such as Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics (Princeton University Press, 2005).

Since "neoliberalism" itself is a notion that is both contested and at the same time used on a wide scale in academic and activist contexts, any such work is in need to first elaborate on the meaning that is deemed relevant. Indeed, as Brown herself reports in the opening chapter, there is a widespread predilection to understand neoliberalism mostly as a specific set of economic policies increasingly deployed over the last three decades, and to focus then on their perceived consequences on the unraveling welfare states. Such policies generally promote deregulation, liberalization, privatization and deficit reduction - commonly seen as the "Washington consensus" (policies promoted by the international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the Work Bank).

There are, writes Brown, at least four kinds of systemic effects of these economic policies over time. First, increased inequality. Economists such as Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman are vocal in presenting the converging data sets on the rise of inequality as measured across and within developed and developing countries. In and of itself, the study of the raising forms of inequality is a growing part of the debates on neoliberalism. The second effect is an extension of the dynamic of marketization, that is, of giving a monetary and exchange value to objects that were previously not deemed to have a trading potential (an example here would be the carbon emissions trading schemes established by various intergovernmental conventions). A third effect is the growing "corporate domination of political decisions", exemplified by the sheer costs of electoral campaigns and by the fact that, increasingly, both the elected officials and their sponsors are now part of the famous 1% decried by protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street. This "intimacy" of capital with political institutions is now well documented and has profound impact on the way we understand conventional mechanisms of political representation. At the same time, recent decisions of the US Supreme Court such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) aggravate this trend by providing corporations a First Amendment free speech protection similar to that which was heretofore reserved to individual citizens, thereby making elected officials even more dependent on corporate campaign donations. Finally, neoliberal economic policies generate structural economic instability by deregulating the most high-risk forms of finance capital, as seen in the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2009. The legislative and regulatory efforts throughout the '80s and the '90s to limit and then repel the Glass-Steagall banking legislation in place since 1933 are considered responsible for the financial crisis.

Yet Wendy Brown's crucial contribution in this book is not necessarily to delve into the nature and consequences of neoliberal economic policies. Instead, her intellectual efforts are directed towards a more foundational aspect: neoliberalism understood as the dominant form of political rationality. In this, she elaborates on the previous work by Michel Foucault (particularly in his recently published conferences at the College de France in the late '70s). …

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

Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution
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.