Never Ending Nightmare



Never Ending Nightmare


Pierre Dardot is a philosopher and specialist in Hegel and Marx while Christian Laval is Professor of Sociology at the University de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense.


The original version of this book was in French. The English edition, edition, was published by Verso, London and Brooklyn, NY, in 2019. This version is the subject of this commentary and has a 29-page, ‘preface’, unique to this edition. The preface is headed the: ‘Anatomy of the ‘New Neoliberalism’ and is an important addition to the book. The successive chapters supply the detailed analyses, evidence and arguments supporting the ‘Key messages of the Authors.’

TRANSLATOR: Gregory Elliott


Brian Harrisson is an Australia by birth wholives in Melbourne. He is a Fellow of CPA Australia and was previously a Corporate Financial executive, Public Accounting Practitioner and Consultant. He is now retired. His website, , provides articles and opinions on issues of community importance, and commentaries on books of community relevance, of which this is one.

COMMENTARY - Date: 18 May 2023. Approximate Length: a little over 2,000 words.


I came across this book while browsing. The title made me curious, while the narrative on the inside front flap of the dust cover, sealed the deal. It read, in part: ‘How do we explain the strange survival of the forces responsible for the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (Hereafter GFC), the worst since 1929?’ How is it that the driver of economic policies that created the GFC, appeared stronger than ever? When the world’s financial systems were in such chaos, several of the world’s most prominent economists hastened to announce the death of Neoliberalism[1], but the reports of its death were, exaggerated.’

‘The Never-Ending Nightmare’ is a creative and well documented criticism of the Capitalist socio- economic and political ideology commonly referred to as Neoliberalism. The authors assert and competently justify their claim that the ideology’s ideas and systems, now adopted by a range of governments, throughout the world, has led to increased wealth and power in the hands of oligarchs in those countries, at the expense of the less well off. As well, the ideology is expanding, and therefore is increasingly undermining the democracy in the countries whose governments have embraced the rules and principles of Neoliberalism.

The authors are academics, who are clearly progressive (as opposed to conservative, in the political, economic, and social senses). They are therefore participants, in an ongoing intellectual conflict waged between the forces that support Neoliberalism and those who oppose it. Of recent times, historically speaking, this conflict has festered, since US President Reagan and UK Prime Minister Thatcher, came to a political consensus that effectively relaunched the principles of Neoliberalism in the early 1980’s, after a period of latency, following world-war two.

PREFACE titled: Anatomy of the New-Neoliberalism.

As noted, the twenty paged preface is unique to the English edition, and discusses the anatomy of Neoliberalism, under these headings:

  • Crises as a mode of Government.
  • Trumpism and Fascism.
  • Major crises in Liberal Democracy.
  • The New Neoliberalism.
  • A Civil War Government.
  • The Neoliberalism of Macron.
  • Recourse to the Law, against Democracy.

The preface is a valuable addition, because it outlines the toxic Socio-Economic and political affects, Neoliberalism has wrought, on countries whose governments have adopted the rules and principles of New Neoliberalism, such that it has become a growing new threat to their people and to the world.

This new threat is that the ‘Ideology hitherto labelled ‘Neoliberalism,’ is mutating into an even more aggressive, dangerous ‘anti-democratic’ form, that the authors have labelled, the ‘New Neoliberalism.’ There are two elements to this threat. One is the system in each country, is in the thrall of governments and local oligarchs who cooperate with their local and international peers and supporters, and internationally sympathetic Governments, to increase their mutual power and hence their wealth. Second, this globally growing, system achieves those outcomes through the combination of organization and ideology, where the former develops and implements the relevant strategies, ideas, and rules, while the latter, obscures or legitimates, as the case may be, their rancid outcomes.

The authors describe this new Neoliberal ‘beast’ as: ‘a system that through the mechanism of international relations, of competition and domination, and through the mediation of major organizations of global governance (IMF, World Bank, EU, and others), this mode of government has become a veritable world system of power governed by the imperative of self-preservation.’

As power controls wealth, the system of New Neoliberalism, is ensuring the increasing accumulation of both, in the hands of the ‘top one percent of wealth holders, in countries where it applies. Clearly then, despite its historical democratic underpinnings, the New Neoliberalism is a non-democratic system of government that applies in wide range of countries.


It’s chapter headings, are:

Introduction: From bad to worse

  1. Governing by crisis
  2. The Neoliberal project: An Anti-Democratic project.
  3. Neoliberal System and Capitalism.
  4. The European Union, or The Empire of Norms.
  5. The Debt Noose.
  6. The Neoliberal Oligarchic Block.
  7. Conclusion: Democracy as Experimenting with the Commons.

This part of the commentary covers a selection of points from the body of the book.

According to progressive Economists and Academics, the nadir of Neoliberalism, was in 2008, with the advent of the GFC. Further crises followed this event. including: the Greek crisis within the European Union, that, came to a head in 2015. Then came the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, and the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil in 2018. The events in Brazil promised a return to the neoliberal sponsored violence comparable to that of Pinochet and his Chicago boys. The experience of Brazil is a reminder that neoliberals have never been selective in their choice of club membership, provided that candidates are to the right in the political spectrum and support Laissez Faire Economics (otherwise called Neoclassical, economics), and the New Neoliberalism.

The authors point out that, historically, Neoliberalism, has been, misunderstood, in two ways. First, Neoliberalism should never have been confused with Classical Liberalism, as enunciated by Adam Smith and other early classical economists. These people were altruistic in their intellectual endeavours and had warned about the dangers to society of illicit manipulation of their ideas for private gain Second, the New Neoliberalism has been perceived as a new form of Neoliberal fascism. Such a belief obscures the true dangers that Neoliberalism secretes from within. At least fascist groups tend to be open on what they are on about. Not so with the reality of New Neoliberalism. It is practice.

During the post, Reagan/Thatcher period of Neoliberalism, Neoliberal governed societies, accepted the logic of capital, a particular type of corporate philosophy notion whose principles included: rivalry, precarity, uncertainty, competition, and alienation of organized labour. Building on this foundation, New Neoliberal orientated governments have looked to run their societies accordingly. Government onslaughts against their people have undermined the foundations of social life and the functioning of liberal democracy and increased further the movement of wealth towards oligarchs and their supporters. These bastions of New Neoliberalism cooperate internationally, form new associations, and spread the new rules of political and economic management, globally. The result is that political and economic rationality is becoming entrenched globally whereby government impose the ‘logic of capital’ on western economies, societies, and states, mediated through major organizations of global governance.

In the European Economic Union, (Hereafter EU), these strategies are supplemented by clever politics exercised by the EU Administration, against, it’s so called, renegade member states, as a way of forcing them to adhere to the EU rules. The authors use the Greek case as an example. They describe how the EU bureaucracy deftly sidestepped, the respective constitution, laws, and government policies, to ‘legally’ override decisions taken by the democratically elected Greek government. This is not the place to explain the EU strategy in detail, but readers should be aware that the EU ruthlessly enforced its rules without breaching either the Greek constitution or its of laws. Those actions undermined decisions taken by a democratically elected government working in the interests of its people. As such those actions hollowed out Greek democracy. These actions imposed a lot of pain on the Greek people, in order to serve the interest of the EU banks and hence the EU’s many oligarchs. The book also supplies examples outside the EU, which support the existence of the wider Neoliberal conspiracy.

The authors argue that the New Neoliberal movement is now so widespread and powerful, that it needs to be dealt with before the problem reaches the point of no return. They describe an indicative strategy that an organized Bloc of Democracy supporters could follow. The strategy to impede the growth of the New Liberalism centres around two issues. The first relates to how the disparate forces opposing the Neoliberal movement, can be unified, cohered, and structured? The second part relates to how, the Anti ‘New Neoliberal forces’ can be organized, to bring down the new Neoliberalism.

The authors consider that the first leg of the strategy requires the development of an alternative Ideology that outperforms the ideology of freedom[2] that the movement has successfully used to win support. The second leg of the strategy requires the locally organized mass movements of workers in each country, co-ordinated by an internationally organization. On the face of it, this is akin to the notion expressed in the famous ‘Marx-Engels Manifesto’ urging ‘Workers of the world to unite.’ If the authors are correct in their analyses and conclusions, united action against the New Neoliberalism, though complex and difficult, would appear to be both desirable, and in the interest of Justice.


First, the translation of the book from French to English may not have been problem free. Sometimes I had to read parts of the book twice. The second time slowly and ultra-analytically when trying to get a handle on the particular message the book was trying to convey at that point. This was partly due to: the breadth and complexity of the subject matter, the book was addressing. The fact that that subject matter was interdisciplinary also contributed. Converting complex ideas from the language of one culture into those of another can be problematic. The resulting awkwardness and sometimes irritatingly convoluted nature of the narrative interfered with its clarity. The diction was occasionally vague. Notwithstanding these observations, the added effort involved in understanding this the narrative was well worth it.

Second, how do the key issues and assertions of the authors stand up to, critical scrutiny?

(a) The assertion by the authors that the systems of Neoliberalism, facilitate the accumulation of power and wealth in the hands of the top 1% of a population, at the expense of the vast majority of people within individual countries and between them, can be proven statistically.

(b) The authors assertion that Neoliberalism undermines democracy in countries where it is active, is in my view, reasonable.

(c) The authors assertion that Capitalism is publicly duplicitous is consistent with the views of other progressive writers[3] and is therefore seems reasonable.


Although the book is not an easy read, its revelations provided me with a valuable return on my small investment. The content of the book will not be easily accessible to everyone. It is recommended that those progressive thinkers for whom it is accessible, should read it.

The authors are to be, congratulated and thanked for their important, critical, insightful, and courageous work on the latest version of the conservative ideology, namely, the New Neoliberalism,


[1]The sense of Neoliberalism used by the authors is complex. The description of it is spread throughout the book. The internet provides a comprehensive description of it in the link below. Alternative links can be accessed by typing the term ‘Neoliberalism’ into ‘Google’:

In brief, Neoliberalism is a 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism, and free market capitalism. An extensive article on it, is available at: 9 March 2020)

The same page also provides scope for questions. If you seek an answer to the question ‘Is Neoliberalism an ideology’ the following answer comes up: Neoliberalism is the dominant ideology permeating the public policies of many governments in developed and developing countries and of international agencies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and many technical agencies of the United Nations, including the World Health. (Consulted, 9 March 2020)

[2] The power underlying the concept of freedom was illustrated during the cold war when the US government used the used the Ideology of ‘Freedom’ to devastate its Soviet opponents.

[3] There are a sizeable number of authors who have written books criticising various aspects of Capitalism. They include:

a. Noam Chomsky who wrote: Who Rules the World, 2016, Metropolitan Books, NY.

b. Ha Joon Chang, who wrote: The Things they don’t tell you about Capitalism,2010.

c. Kalle Lasn, who wrote: Meme Wars: The creative destruction of Neo-Classical Economics.2012 Seven Stories Press, NY.

d. Jeff Sparrow, who wrote: Crimes Against Nature: Capitalism and Global Heating, 2021, Scribe Publications, Australia, UK. and USA.