Thursday, December 29, 2016

Chomsky, Noam & McChesney, Robert W. (2011): Profit Over People: Neoliberalism & Global Order

What is it about?

The book describes, discusses and criticizes the political doctrine or ideology known as neoliberalism.

The basic position taken by the authors is that this ideology is quite prevalent today, and that it is societally detrimental because it favors corporations, especially the big ones, and thereby the rich, while the vast majority of people are correspondingly deprived of wealth and political influence.

Was it good?

With regard to its subject matter, the book is quite good. Its basic message is highly resonating with respect to the world political situation today and with respect to Finland in particular. Especially insightful is the discussion about the illusion of there not being any alternatives to neoliberalism - an assertion quite frequently heard in the public discourse both here in Finland as well as abroad.

The style of the book, however, leaves something to be desired. First, I found the book somewhat disorganized. That is, for me, the argumentative progression did not seem to follow a structured build-up to major conclusions. And second, the writing style came across as quite "complaining", i.e. negative tone used throughout the text. Thus, a more dispassionate and/or "intellectual" rhetorical style would have been more to my liking.

This is not to say that the observations made in the book were not to the point - rather, that if made in a more structured and dispassionate way, those would probably have been even more forceful.

The main take-away for me?

I personally appreciated the "illusion of there not being alternatives", because this issue (or non-issue) is rather topical here in Finland at the moment. That is, the neoliberal political line usually states that X must be done, because it is the only possibility. According to the authors, this is an illusion created by the currently hegemonic status of the neoliberal doctrine.

Who should read the book?

This book, too, is quite healthy reading for everyone. However, perhaps a dose of "political awareness" is beneficial for appreciating and especially enjoying the text.

The book on Profit Over People

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