THE TWILIGHT OF EQUALITY? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy

Lisa Duggan, Author . Beacon $24 (111p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7944-7

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. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/29/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Paperback - 136 pages - 978-0-8070-7955-3
Open Ebook - 93 pages - 978-0-8070-9580-5
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