I beg your assistance and advice in helping me learn more about late twentieth-century Neoliberalism in the United States. I’m trying to get up-to-speed in two ways. First, I want to find the most authoritative voice or voices in specifically defining Neoliberalism. Second, I want to know something more about the most thoughtful, contemporary critics of Neoliberalism (I’m sure they trace their thinking back to C. Wright Mills somehow).
I make these requests because my graduate and undergraduate educations were deficient, by choice mostly, in terms of thinking about contemporary politics and economic practice. I suppose this isn’t a surprising omission in terms of training for cultural and intellectual history, plus the history of education. With my specialties and weaknesses in mind, I need to learn something about the idea of Neoliberalism for a top-secret article on which I am presently working. I say “top secret” in jest, but all I want to say about it at this point is this: it is related to the history of education in late twentieth-century America. My problem with the already drafted article, and a problem seconded by early reviewers, is that it uses too many full-frontal terms like “greed” and hypocrisy in its analysis. It was suggested that Neoliberalism was the idea I was talking around. But to incorporate some more nuanced terminology related to Neoliberalism and its critics into my text, I need some books and names for my footnotes.
What do I know already? Well, not much aside from Mills, but here is what I have gathered so far:
(a) Neoliberalism is a market-oriented line of thinking with regard to the traditional projects of liberalism (welfare, health care, education, infrastructure, etc.). It seems to be a conciliatory political variation, safe for Democrats, of Milton Friedman’s thinking.
(b) Bill Clinton and his community of discourse were highly influenced by Neoliberalism. This includes people like Robert Rubin [corrected from first post—see comment below].
(c) Thanks to an earlier post by fellow USIH contributor Andrew Hartman, I know that Eve Chiapello and Luc Boltanski’s The New Spirit of Capitalism is a related theoretical text. I don’t know whether their bias is critical?
(d) This Wikipedia entry on Neoliberalism looks helpful. What are its weaknesses? From the entry it looks like John Williamson’s 10 policy points might be a nice starting point for a definition of Neoliberalism.
Thanks in advance for your help. – TL