Disordering the World: the Rise of Neo-Liberalism

Photo from Age of Extremes cover | CC BY 2.0

In his melancholic book, Age of Extremes: the Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991 (1995), British historian Eric Hobsbawm states: “The history of the twenty years after 1973 is that of a world which lost its bearings and slid into instability and crisis” (p. 403). American historian Tony Judt (Postwar: a History of Europe Since 1945 (2005) captures a widely expressed sentiment: “After 1945-75, Western Europe’s ‘thirty glorious years’ gave way to an age of monetary inflation and declining growth rates, accompanied by widespread unemployment and social discontent (p. 455). Hobsbawm thinks that it was only in the 1980s that it became clear that the “golden age” of the social welfare state had crumbled and disintegrated.

In the 1970s and 1980s something new and threatening to human solidarity and well-being was wresting itself free of service to the common good and undermining the “principle of oneness.” Its name was Neo-liberalism, the mighty Moloch to whom all must surrender. It also became undeniable that the “global nature” of the crisis was being uneasily recognized. One part of the world—the USSR and E. Europe—had collapsed entirely. And in Africa, West Asia, Latin America the growth of the GDP ceased as a severe depression settled in the lands like an unwanted damp fog. But from the corporate elite’s towering vantage-point, western economies seemed to be thriving even if millions of individuals…

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