Founder of the New Left Review discusses neoliberalism

UMass hosts talk on the fallout of neoliberalism


(Collegian File Photo)

By Bonnie Chen, Collegian Staff

UCLA professor and founder of the New Left Review Perry Anderson spoke on the political fallout of neoliberal order from the mid-1970s and onward at the University of Massachusetts on April 11.

The lecture was the fifth installment of the Political Economy Research Institute Speaker Series, “The Right Wing Assault on American Democracy: What Is It? How Can We Defeat It?”

Anderson’s talk follows that of Gordon Lafer, professor of labor studies at the University of Oregon, Nancy McLeon, professor of history and public policy at Duke University, Jennifer Taub, law professor at the University of Vermont, and William Spriggs, professor of economics at Howard University.

Co-director of PERI Robert Pollin introduced Anderson, saying Anderson “has been among the most accomplished and influential Marxian social scientists in the world over the last 50 years.”

According to Anderson, neoliberalism first began in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“The aim for a neoliberal makeover,” Anderson said, “was to restore rates of capital that had fallen virtually everywhere from the late 1960s onward and to conquer the combination of stagnation and inflation that had set in.”

For roughly 25 years, up until the Great Recession of 2008, the aims of neoliberalism were reached, according to Anderson. Growth returned. Recessions were short, and the rates of profit recovered. The success of neoliberalism was the result of an expansion of credit that consisted of the creation of unparalleled levels of private and corporate debt, Anderson said.

Anderson compared the Great Recession of 2008 to the economic crash of the Great Depression, saying, “In magnitude, it was fully comparable to the crash in 1929.”

The effects of the 2008 financial crisis reverberated internationally, Anderson noted, and once the realization of the effects of neoliberalism on central institutions of capitalism hit, neoliberalism was rejected.

Bridget Diana, an economics graduate student at UMass, did not know much about Anderson prior to attending the talk, saying, “A lot of people were saying it would be a really good talk, so I kind of looked him up a little bit and wanted to come see. I thought the topic was really interesting.”

Anderson explained how following 2008, social and political consequences came to light. In the U.S. and U.K. especially, an escalation in inequality occurred. Political consequences included wholesale corruption and the corrosion of electoral processes.

Neoliberalism is an international regime, one that binds together and exceeds the different nation states of the advanced and less advanced states of the capitalist world, a process also known as globalization.

This international regime consists of three fundamental principles: escalation of differential equality, aggregation of democratic control and representation and deregulation of as many economic transitions.

Anderson noted that the catalysts for the 2008 recession still remain unchanged. “The obese share of finance in American GDP has not dropped since 2008, it has actually increased,” he said. “The growth of corporate debt has outpaced that of capitalist stock.”

Bonnie Chen can be reached at [email protected]