The Twilight of Equality?: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy

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9780807079553: The Twilight of Equality?: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy

By now, we've all heard about the shocking redistribution of wealth that's occurred during the last thirty years, and particularly during the last decade. But economic changes like this don't occur in a vacuum; they're always linked to politics. The Twilight of Equality? searches out these links through an analysis of the politics of the 1990s, the decade when neoliberalism-free market economics-became gospel. After a brilliant historical examination of how racial and gender inequities were woven into the very theoretical underpinnings of the neoliberal model of the state, Duggan shows how these inequities play out today. In a series of political case studies, Duggan reveals how neoliberal goals have been pursued, demonstrating that progressive arguments that separate identity politics and economic policy, cultural politics and affairs of state, can only fail. Ultimately, The Twilight of Equality? not only reveals how the highly successful rhetorical maneuvers of neoliberalism have functioned but, more importantly, it shows a way to revitalize and unify progressive politics in the U.S. today.

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About the Author:

Lisa Duggan is associate professor of American Studies and history at New York University. She is coeditor of Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and the National Interest and author of Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence, and American Modernity, which won the John Boswell Prize of the American Historical Association in 2001.

From Publishers Weekly:

Sometime during the 1990s, conservative Republicans adopted the rhetoric of multiculturalism, liberal Democrats announced the end of welfare and thus, neoliberalism was born. Duggan, a professor of American studies and history at New York University, offers a thoughtful study of how ongoing, bipartisan sponsorship of free market economics has eclipsed social democracy and culture over the past 20 years. But neoliberalism's most insidious characteristic, argues Duggan (Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence, and American Modernity), is its wolf-in-sheep's-clothing claim of multicultural neutrality, purporting to isolate the "natural" processes of capitalism from sticky issues of class, race and identity. President Clinton, for instance, publicly supported antiracist, inclusionary policy while simultaneously pushing through NAFTA-legislation that promoted, according to Duggan, the inherently racist, classist structures of global capitalism. In a provocative case study, the author examines the way conservative Republicans clamped down on a women's studies conference at SUNY New Paltz, threatening academic freedom with a battle cry for family values. Duggan sees this incident as part of a larger neoliberal project to erode and marginalize "downwardly distributive" social movements like feminism and civil rights that threaten the current social order. The result is a dangerous schism of leftist concerns: gay activists currently embrace a more mainstream direction instead of trying to disrupt the status quo, while NARAL focuses exclusively on abortion rights, ignoring the larger context of social, political, economic and cultural inequality. Duggan's well-reasoned argument is that true progressive change must occur not in parts but as a unified whole.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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