what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Dog that didn't Bark

A pile of journals and books was waiting for me on and under my neighbour’s table when I arrived back on Sunday at the mountain house – not just the blessed London Review of Books and (less honoured) New Statesman but the first couple of issues of a professional journal to which I am now resubscribing - Public Administration – an international quarterly. This used to be my staple reading in the 1980s and 1990s – along with The Political Quarterly and many others – but the increasingly narrow scope and leaden prose of such academic journals had driven me away about 15 years ago.
If only for their book reviews, however, they are an important way of keeping me in touch with what professionals in my field are thinking about – no matter how their choice of subjects are so often distorted by the competition for academic promotion. So the delights of The Political Quarterly have also started arriving – and I am also thinking of renewing my acquaintance with the journal Governance 
Amazingly Wiley publications which owns these journals is offering (for those who already are subscribing to one journal in their Politics stable) a 30 day free trial viewing of all of the Politics journals in their stable – about 100 – archives and all! So that will keep me fairly quiet in the next few weeks

My pile of books included half a dozen on Turkish matters (by coincidence I was invited last week into a bid for a project in the country) and a fat book called Never Let a Serious Crisis go to Waste – how neoliberalism survived the financial meltdown 
The book’s opening pages annoyed me no end. Most (of the considerable number of) reviews have been very positive but one caught my feelings exactly -
Mirowski’s aggressive yet obtuse writing style seems designed to alienate casual readers, cuts off discussions of potential alternatives out of the current morass, and ironically paints too positive a picture of where orthodoxy stands at the current moment.

But I will have to persevere since, like most people, I have been too casual in my use of the term and do need to understand why social democrats are so powerless in face of this phenomenon. Three years ago I wrote an article on this – called The Dog that Didn’t Bark which appeared in a special issue of Revista 22(a Romanian journal) which was commemorating 09/11
At that time, Colin Crouch was one of the few people who had devoted a book to the question (The Strange Non-Death of Neo-Liberalism)
Three years on, a lot more people have written about it and Philip Mirowski (the author of the latest) reviewed some of them in the journal I referred to recently.

Mirowski has helpfully put online one of the key sections of his book – the thirteen commandments of neo-liberalism - which allows you, reader, to see for yourself what I mean about the convoluted style. He can also be heard on some ipod interviews herehere and here
And Colin Crouch himself has returned to the charge in a (free) article Putting Neoliberalism in its place in the current issue of Political Quarterly.

I hope to write more about the book’s contents – and reception - shortly

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