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Fall 2018

ZONE BOOKS

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A New Interview
“Who is not a neoliberal today?” Wendy Brown discusses Undoing the Demos in Tocqueville 21

In the first of several interviews with contemporary thinkers, Jacob Hamburger of Tocqueville 21 talks with Wendy Brown about the evolution of neoliberalism and democracy and her prize-winning book, Undoing the Demos . Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full interview. An excerpt appears below:

Q: “In just the two years since your book was first published, the term “neoliberalism” has entered public discourse after many years of being confined to academic and left activist circles. Many critics of the term today have accused it of being too broad, covering too many aspects of society. So let’s try to be specific: who is a neoliberal today?”

A: “I would invert the question to ask who is not a neoliberal today. A governing rationality like neoliberalism organizes and constructs a great deal of conduct and a great many values without appearing to do so. It produces “reality principles” by which we live without thinking about them. Thus, almost everyone in workplaces, social media presentations, educational institutions, non-profits, the arts, and more is governed by neoliberal norms. It’s quite hard to escape neoliberal rationality, including for those who imagine that they are radically critical of it. Consider, for example, how many left intellectuals use their social media profiles—Twitter, Facebook, etc.—not to build the Revolution, but to promote their books, speaking gigs, and ideas in order to boost their market value. This has become so ubiquitous that we hardly notice it.”