Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics
By Kim Phillips-Fein
Metropolitan Books (April 2017)
Reviewed by Jacqueline Brandon
Critics of neoliberalism have well established that disasters, be they economic, ecological, or political, create space for opportunistic restructuring. In post-Allende Chile as in post-Katrina New Orleans, free market ideologues, business interests, and neoconservative political regimes seized the chance to dismantle robust public services and unions, making the death of liberal civil society in the name of corporate oligarchy parading as bootstrap individualism. In mid-1970s New York City, deepening municipal debt and a waning commitment to the liberal politics established by the New Deal and Great Society coalesced in what has gone down in history as the narrowly avoided fiscal collapse of the city. This is the story Kim Phillips-Fein tells in Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics. Here, sandwiched between the sixties’ welfare state expansion and the eighties’ triumph of Reaganism, Phillips-Fein uncovers the complicated process by which once-liberal politicians and policymakers embraced a form of governance hollowed of public services and friendlier than ever to business leaders and the financial industry.
Clifton Hood's In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis
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