Neoliberal Managerial Capitalism: Its Class Foundations and Economic and Political Prospects after the Crisis


Gerard Dumenil, Professor Emeritus, Paris10 Nanterre

21 May, 5-7:30pm

SG2 Alison Richards Building, Sidgwick site

Please join us to hear Gerard Dumenil speak on the foundations of Neoliberal capitalism, analysis of trends in Europe and the US since 2008, and the strategies and prospects for the end of Neoliberalism

Gerard Dumenil is Professor Emeritus at Paris10 Nanterre.
For a recent list of publications in English see:
His latest books include The Crisis of Neoliberalism (2011) and La Grande Bifurcation: en finir avec le neoliberalisme (2014)


Beginning in the early 20th century, a long process of transformation of the relations of production prevailing in the most advanced countries (notably the United States and Europe) was initiated, with the continuous rise of the new classes of managers (including high officials in the government sector). We jointly refer to capitalist and managerial classes as “upper classes” in the context of the resulting hybrid social formation that can be denoted as “managerial capitalism”.
A specific feature of the decades that followed the Great Depression was, however, the dramatic decline of the power and income of capitalist classes, the consequence of new political trends. In the late 1970s or early 1980s, however, the United States and Europe entered into a new phase of managerial capitalism known as “neoliberalism”. The management of corporations and policies were radically redirected to the benefit of upper classes, in the context of neoliberal financialization and globalization. The crisis of the 1970s (a profitability crisis) played a central role in the transition to the new social order, but the establishment of neoliberalism was the outcome of the victorious struggle of upper classes (capitalists and managers), breaking the earlier alliance between managerial and popular classes since the Great Depression.
The features of the new phase are, however, distinct depending on the country considered. The core of neoliberalism is formed by the United States and the United Kingdom (the transmission betlt), as can be shown in the analysis of financial institutions (the interface between ownership and control worldwide) and the spectacular rise of inequality in these countries, not clearly observed in France or Germany. (China builds capitalism but is not a neoliberal country.)
The crisis of the early 21st century must be understood as the crisis of neoliberalism, followed by a comeback of Keynesian-Marxian interpretations. Its roots are located in the class objectives typical of the neoliberal class endeavour and the disequilibria of the U.S. economy. (The crisis is not a profitability crisis.)
Since 2008, new diverging trends have been established, with, in the United States, a form of “administered neoliberalism”, whose main feature is a strong involvement of central institutions (the government and the central bank), in sharp contrast with the financial orthodoxy prevailing in continental Europe.
In the context of the crisis of utopias that followed the failure of countries of self-proclaimed socialism, there is no alternative to the patient ideological and political construction of a new alliance between popular classes and managerial classes, with all the potential and risk inherent in this strategy as revealed by the history of social struggles for the emancipation of humanity since the 18th century.

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