ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Immortal Capitalism versus Civil Society?

The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism by Colin Crouch (Cambridge: Polity Press), 2011; pp 199, $64.95.

Spurts of works diagnosing the problems of capitalism emerge each time there is a catastrophic economic crisis, but things always seem to get back to the old order the moment the crisis subsides. The Great Depression of the 1930s, the oil crises of 1973-74 and 1979-80, the debt crisis of the early 1980s and now the global financial crisis of 2008-09 have made little difference to the way governments have addressed the salient problems of capitalism. The old Soviet-style communist regimes threatened to create a new path, albeit at the expense of denying peoples’ freedom, but finally they all collapsed in a series of social explosions that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and fell in line with capitalism. This book attempts to bring together some fresh thinking to question the crisis-prone old capitalist order.

The book is organised around eight chapters. Chapter 1 discusses in detail the origins and expansion of neo-liberalism with a focus on financial capital. Chapter 2 unbundles the meaning of markets and their limitations. Chapter 3 discusses with evidence the oligopolistic conduct of large corporations and their adverse impact on markets. Chapter 4 deals with private firms engaged in providing public and merit goods, and market and government failures arising as a consequence. Chapter 5 discusses how economic and political elites corner markets and governments to serve their own ends while leaving behind inflated and un­accounted debts. Chapter 6 examines the role of civil society in addressing the three powerful forces of state, market and corporations. Chapter 7 debates the ­responsibility of civil society to protect societal values. The final chapter discusses the values essential to achieving collective and public goals.

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