Daniel Rodgers has written the latest would-be obituary for neoliberalism as a category of analysis, hot off the press in the first 2018 issue of Dissent magazine. Like Rajesh Venugopal and Bill Dunn before him, he creates a typology of the term’s use before concluding its analytical and political uselessness. Personally, I remain invested in seeking greater precision for the term rather than discarding it. The transformations, competing definitions, and contradictions of a term like liberalism or socialism have not led us to jettison those terms, so why this one?
The workshop “Geographies of Markets”—hosted over three days in mid-June 2017 by the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy at Concordia University, Montréal—gave scholars from a wide range of countries and disciplines an opportunity to assess the continued relevance of the Polanyian critique of “market society.” Even if this critique lacks the formal rigor of neoclassical economics, even if Polanyi’s concept of market exchange fails to capture the institutional intricacies of contemporary markets, and even if the man himself was very much a European intellectual of his age, his approach still appears to provide the best scientific foundation on which to build global political and normative alternatives to neoliberal hegemony. Today, however, his geographic binary between East and West, like his ideal types of redistribution and market exchange, all need careful reappraisal.
The 1970s increasingly move into the spotlight of contemporary history research. The decade is often portrayed as one of profound change, a radical rupture driven by watershed moments such as the oil crisis or the end of the Bretton Woods system of fixed currency exchange rates. This is not only the major take on the decade in recent publications by historians such as “Nach dem Boom” (Doering-Manteuffel and Raphael 2010) or “Age of Fraction” (Rodgers 2011), but also a well-established analytical approach across the social sciences and humanities (some of the most widely cited works in this regard are Harvey 1990, 2005). The international conference “Ruptures, Consolidations, Continuities: Reconsidering Global Economic Processes since 1945,” held at the Centre of Global Studies at the University of Bern, thus was a timely project to engage this paradigm. Over two-and-a-half days, researchers from the social sciences and the humanities came together to question the big “-isms” of 20th century-periodizations, such as Fordism, Post-Fordism, Keynesianism, and Neoliberalism.
Brazil is at a critical juncture. Improvements in social welfare that have been achieved over the past two decades threaten to recede as the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) is removed from power. Yet the goods that have been objects of Brazil’s various social programs recede and persist in different ways. Once given, some things are harder to take away.
A crisis is always good for humor. The English satirical magazine Private Eye caught the spirit of uncertainty and the possible tragedy of Brexit—that many of those who voted for it may have intensified their abjection as a result. One spoof comment for The Daily Turkeygraph (a composite of the conservative Daily Mail and Telegraph papers) written by Jeremy Paxo (a reference to the news commentator Jeremy Paxman, also a brand of stuffing mix) was headlined “TURKEYS VOTE FOR CHRISTMAS IN REFERENDUM CLIFFHANGE.R. Another for The Indepandent (sic, The Independent, a liberal/conservative paper) headlined “BRITAIN VOTES TO LEAVE FRYING PAN AND JUMP INTO FIRE.”
This post is part of a series on the Latin American pink tide, moderated and edited by Massimiliano Mollona (Goldsmiths, University of London).
The judicial coup against President Dilma Rousseff is the culmination of the deepest political crisis in Brazil for fifty years.
Every so often, the bourgeois political system runs into crisis. The machinery of the state jams, the veils of consent are torn asunder, and the tools of power appear disturbingly naked. Brazil is living through one of those moments: it is a dreamland for social scientists, a nightmare for everyone else.
This post is the introduction to a series on the Latin American pink tide, moderated and edited by Massimiliano Mollona (Goldsmiths, University of London).
The twenty-first century opened with a wave of radical political mobilizations sweeping through Latin America and brought left-wing parties in power in Brazil (2002), Argentina (2003), Uruguay (2004), Bolivia (2006), Chile (2006), Ecuador (2006), Paraguay (2008), and Peru (2011). The so-called “pink tide” was the result of the massive societal mobilization against the dislocation brought by dictatorships in the 1980s and the radical privatizations and austerity measures pushed through by neoliberal social democracies in the 1990s. The core impulse of this new political phenomenon were the cross-sectional and horizontal alliances between anti-imperialist, white middle classes; the traditional labor movement; and indigenous, women, and urban organizations. The antiglobalization movement that emerged from the World Social Forum (WSF) was another central engine of the pink tide, in creating a liaison between parties and social movements, and renewing the labor movement by bringing together the traditional industrial trade unions and diverse sections of civil society. In power, left-wing governments across Latin America renationalized companies, set in motion massive programs of poverty reduction and urban participation, which empowered women, indigenous, and black minorities.
This article argues that the oil price shocks of the 1970s triggered a wave of global financialization led by Western banks and the US State that disconnected actual production from social reproduction in hundreds of indebted countries after 1982. It draws on a case study of Citibank lending in Mexico, the first country (of dozens) to default on the spate of cross-border loans spurred by new petrodollar (oil/gas debt) recycling strategies. I argue that this turn to fictive production—now ubiquitous as a neoliberal strategy—as well as the accompanying social exclusion that results, calls for rethinking the concept of “mode of production” in efforts to characterize late capitalism.
Vers un Automne Érable?1
Whenever threatened, the first thing power restricts is the ability to linger or assemble in the street.
In September of 2014, I arrived in Montréal to study the students’ strike that had erupted throughout the province of Québec three years earlier. I was particularly interested in learning more about the evolution of the movement itself and the networks it had forged with related movements: the Chilean student protests, Occupy Wall Street, and 15M.
Capitalism originated first in the city-states of Renaissance Italy and grew to become a world system with trade, industrialization, and colonialism (Braudel 1982; Arrighi  2010). Thus, capitalism encompasses core centuries of the development of Western classical music and the transformation of classical and folk musics across the world under colonialism and modernity. However, research on music and its relationship to capitalism remains limited and focuses more on popular music and cultural industries. This is due to deeply rooted notions about “high” and “low” arts and “art” versus “commercial” music. The 1938 searing indictment of mass culture as an instrument of capitalist oppression by the musicologist, composer, and leading Frankfurt theorist Theodor Adorno also carries a strong responsibility (indeed, it was Adorno who coined the term “cultural industries,” giving it a strongly pejorative meaning ).