The End of Neoliberalism? (Part One)

The End Of Neoliberalism?


15th december: 10am-5pm

Organised by  Alex Williams and Jeremy Gilbert

Free, all welcome, no need to book

Doors open 9:30, first-come first-served, limited capacity

City university, college building, room a130

272-278 St John St, London EC1V 4PB

Presented by

The Centre for Culture and the Creative Industries at City, University of London


The Centre for Centre for Cultural Studies Research, University of East London

In 2016, almost a decade after the worst financial crisis for eighty years, it seems there are signs that neoliberalism is finally in retreat. The ruling common sense of policy makers, economists, business people, and mainstream journalists on a global basis since the 1980s, neoliberalism had seemed all but indefatigable. Yet a series of signs today point towards a radical shift. From the rise of new populist political movements on the left and the right, to the seeming reversal of global trade, and the calamitous brexit vote in the uk, the existing state of neoliberal affairs is in a process of transition. Underpinning many of these indicators is a shift in political logic, from one which placed the market at the centre of human life, to one which is focused on preservation of the border. The questions that arise from this confluence of events are multiple:

  • Is this the end of neoliberalism, or a point of inflection towards a new mutation?
  • Is neoliberalism merely equivalent to the process of globalisation, or not?
  • Is this a global ‘hegemonic crisis’?
  • What happens to existing neoliberal regimes and modes of governance once the border takes precedence over the market?
  • Can this transformation be said to have been generated by neoliberalism itself?
  • How is this shift inflected by particular local cultural, social, political, and economic conditions?
  • Is the future one of ethno-nationalist fascism or some other form of authoritarianism?
  • What does rising nationalism look like in an era of global technological communications?
  • What are the prospects for contending this crisis from the left?


Christine Berry: principal director for policy & government, New Economics Foundation.

William Davies: reader in political economy at goldsmiths, university of london and author of The Limits Of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty And The Logic Of Competition.

Sara Farris: senior lecturer in sociology at goldsmiths, university of london. She is currently a member of the editorial board of historical materialism and international book review editor for critical sociology.

Alan Finlayson: professor of political and social theory at the university of east anglia. He is also chair of the editorial board of the political journal Renewal.

Jeremy Gilbert: professor of cultural and political theory at the university of east london and the editor of New Formations.

Jo Littler: reader in the centre for cultural industries in the dept of sociology, city, university of london. Her new book Against Meritocracy will be published next year.

Catherine Rottenberg: marie sklodowska curie fellow in the sociology department, goldsmiths and senior lecturer in the department of foreign literatures and linguistics and the gender studies program, ben-gurion university of the negev, beer sheva, israel. Her most recent publication is

“neoliberal feminism and the future of human capital” forthcoming in Signs.

Alex williams: lecturer in the centre for culture and the creative industries, in the dept. of sociology at city, university of london. He is the author of Inventing The Future: Postcapitalism and A World Without Work.

This podcast contains the audio from part one of the conference, the rest is in the following two posts / podcasts  (NB: we failed to record Alex’s bit. There’s still a lot of good stuff to listen to here though!)



Who Broke Britain?

This seminar was presented by the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London  as part of the Culture, Power, Politics series, and was held at Open School East, London on December 12th 2016. With Ayeisha Thomas-Smith (Compass), Anthony Barnett (open Democracy) and Jeremy Gilbert (UEL)

In the 1970s the politics of the New Right created an unlikely fusion between anti-state individualism and authoritarian social conservatisim.  Today, the contradictory effects of these agendas have driven the country to breaking point. The UK is falling apart, as England votes for Brexit while the rest of the country, including London, looks on aghast and wonders if there is a way out. A 40-year campaign of misinformation by the popular press has carried our political culture into the age of ‘post-truth politics’ . The inability of the technocratic elite to manage post-democratic societies has been brutally revealed by Brexit. How did we get here and where are we going?

Where Are We Going? The Politics of the Future

Where Are We Going? The Politics of the Future

What kind of world are we heading into, and who gets to decide? Will artificially-intelligent robots be our masters? Will we be cyborgs ourselves? Are we already? What will happen to us once Chinese workers start demanding decent wages for making all the stuff we buy? Can the planet tolerate the levels of consumption we’ve got used to? Will technology save us or destroy us.? Are we already experiencing ‘post-capitalism’?  Are we already ‘post-human’? All this and more will be revealed in a special panel discussion with Debra Shaw, author of Technoculture, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, authors of Inventing the Future, and series convenor Jeremy Gilbert. 

Can You Feel It? Deleuze & Guattari, Schizoanalysis, Affect


Can you Feel it?

Once upon a time, Cultural Studies was basically about looking at everything as if it were a language: fashion, advertising, music and journalism were understood as different ways in which people ‘make meanings’. A lot of cultural studies still is like that – it’s a very useful and productive way of looking at things. But what about those aspects of our lives which are not easy to translate into ‘meanings’?  What about feelings? What about the sounds of music, the colours of paintings, the physical thrill of watching a movie? These issues aren’t just important for thinking about art and music – they’re also crucial to understanding what motivates people politically and socially. We’ll  explore these issues and try to get inside one of the most difficult but rewarding bodies of 20th century theory: the ‘schizoanalysis’ of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that if there’s one pair of thinkers from the past hundred years who offer uniquely insightful ways of thinking about all of these issues, about the nature of power and the nature of change, and about the very question of what it means to be alive, then I think it’s Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Deleuze was arguably the most influential French philosopher of the late 20th century. Guattari was a militant psychotherapist, an early advocate of ‘queer’ politics’, a key figure in the run-up to the events of May 1968, a widely innovative thinker who ended up running as a Green candidate in regional elections shortly before his death in the early 90s.

D&Gs work is very difficult to read for the uninitiated because it draws on an obscure and idiosyncratic set of sources, and it has become normal in both the French and English-speaking worlds for it to become largely the preserve of academics and aesthetes.

This is a shame, because once you get past the unique terminology (or rather, start to become accustomed to it), this really is one of the most powerful bodies of thought around for thinking about politics on every scale – the result of one of the most ambitious attempts to date to think about the relationships between psychic, the social, the physical and the political aspects of human (and non-human) experience.

In particular D&G have been taken up in various areas of the humanities and social sciences in recent years as theorists of ‘affect’ – of the emotional and bodily aspects of communication and social relationships. Again – this is a really important issue when thinking about all forms of political communication. When focus groups in Nuneaton say that they don’t like Corbyn because he just sort of looks and sounds wrong, they are not primarily responding to the things that he says, but in the way that he says them, in the tone of his voice and the way he seems to carry himself. This is all a question of ‘affect’ as much as it is a question of ‘framing’ or ‘meaning’. So…a lot to think about!