Neoliberal lives

Work, politics, nature, and health in the contemporary United States

Life in America has been transformed over the past thirty-five years. Using a historical materialist framework, the authors argue that what appear today as fragmented social, economic, environmental, and political problems are all manifestations of neoliberalism – a class-based political project to position capital more favourably in its struggle to preserve the conditions for accumulation. This project reaches deeply into the weave of biological, ecological, and social life. It involves both the increasing role of money and markets in the determination of life chances, and the systematic push of corporations into previously protected spheres of life.

Emphasizing Martha Nussbaum’s question “What does a life worthy of human dignity require?”, each chapter of this book (covering work, the environment, health, education, and politics) analyses a cornerstone of human development that had previously been, to varying degrees, protected from the logic of the capitalist market. This book examines how US business successfully increased control over, privatized, or commodified each of these areas, amounting to a neoliberal transformation of lived experience. Neoliberalism has far-reaching and troubling consequences for the potential of people in the US to live a full and flourishing life. The final chapter provides an evaluation of the claim that the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency represents a rupture in neoliberal politics.

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