Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste | Philip Mirowski

Summary of: Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown
By: Philip Mirowski


In ‘Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste’, Philip Mirowski addresses the perplexing fact that neoliberalism survived the 2008 financial meltdown, despite the significant challenges it posed to societies worldwide. The book unravels how the proponents of free-market policies took advantage of the crisis to reinforce their political and economic worldview. It digs deep into the origins and evolution of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (NTC) and its key commandments that continue to shape today’s societies. Through the analysis of concepts like agnotology, murketing, and the entrepreneurialism of the self, the book highlights the insidious ways that neoliberal ideas infiltrate and influence modern life.

The Persistence of Neoliberalism

Despite the global economic crisis of 2008, the neoliberal philosophy of free-market economics remains stubbornly entrenched. In fact, proponents of neoliberalism have used the confusion around the crisis to reassert their worldview. This book explores the history of neoliberal thinking from the 1930s to the present day, revealing how it came to dominate mainstream economic thought and policy. It argues that policymakers and experts need to understand the flaws of neoliberal theory in order to move beyond the current crisis and create a more sustainable and equitable economic system.

The Neoliberal Agenda

The book discusses the ideology of neoliberalism, which is a coalition of classical liberals, libertarians, neoconservatives, and many others who believe in a market-driven society. They hold that the market is a “natural” state of mankind, and the state must restructure itself to maximize its efficiency. This summary outlines the “Thirteen Commandments” that define the neoliberal philosophy, including the belief that the market should be the guiding force for society, and corporations can do no wrong. They argue that democracy should be kept relatively impotent, and financial regulatory duties should be delegated to quasi-private entities and ratings agencies. Neoliberals promote an economic theory of “democracy,” redefine what it means to be a human person, and believe that freedom is based on market participation. They endorse global institutions to ensure the unrestricted movement of funds and argue that inequality is a necessary characteristic of ideal market systems. Neoliberals consider expanding incarceration a means of ensuring freedom and seek to have their neoliberal theories do dual service as a moral code. The book exposes how neoliberal ideology and policies have played a crucial role in causing financial crises and social inequality.

Understanding Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is a pervasive concept in modern society that encourages the fragmentation of the self. The idea is to become a better version of yourself constantly, with the aim of becoming rich and never being labeled as poor or middle class. Neoliberalism personalizes and criminalizes poverty, making it seem like a personal problem rather than a systemic issue. To succeed in a neoliberal world, you must abide by market rules and take risks, but if you fail, it’s your fault, not the market’s. Murketing techniques are widely used to advance neoliberal interests. This book explores how much of modern life unfolds according to the neoliberal plan, from reality TV shows to credit scores and Facebook.

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