Exploring the genesis of neoliberalism, and the political and economic circumstances of its deployment, Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval dispel numerous common misconceptions. Neoliberalism is neither a return to classical liberalism nor the restoration of “pure” capitalism. To misinterpret neoliberalism is to fail to understand what is new about it: far from viewing the market as a natural given that limits state action, neoliberalism seeks to construct the market and make the firm a model for governments. Only once this is grasped will its opponents be able to meet the unprecedented political and intellectual challenge it poses. What is new about neoliberalism? Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval contend that it is more than just a new economic paradigm — it is a system for transforming the human subject. Rather than a return to classic liberalism, or the restoration of a ‘pure’, unconstrained market, neoliberalism envisages the modern corporation as a model for government, conjuring a future in which society is nothing other than a web of market-based relations. Cutting through contemporary misunderstandings about its genesis and prevalence, Dardot and Laval distil neoliberalism to its core meaning and examine how it might be challenged on new political and intellectual terms.
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