Elizabeth AndersonNov 13, 2023
How Neoliberalism Turned the Work Ethic against Workers and How Workers Can Take It Back
Cambridge University Press 2023
What is the work ethic? Does it justify policies that promote the wealth and power of the One Percent at workers' expense? Or does it advance policies that promote workers' dignity and standing? Hijacked: How Neoliberalism Turned the Work Ethic against Workers and How Workers Can Take It Back (Cambridge UP, 2023) explores how the history of political economy has been a contest between these two ideas about whom the work ethic is supposed to serve. Today's neoliberal ideology deploys the work ethic on behalf of the One Percent. However, workers and their advocates have long used the work ethic on behalf of ordinary people. By exposing the ideological roots of contemporary neoliberalism as a perversion of the seventeenth-century Protestant work ethic, Elizabeth Anderson shows how we can reclaim the original goals of the work ethic, and uplift ourselves again. Hijacked persuasively and powerfully demonstrates how ideas inspired by the work ethic informed debates among leading political economists of the past, and how these ideas can help us today.
Elizabeth Anderson is the Max Mendel Shaye Professor of Public Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at University of Michigan. She is the author of Value in Ethics and Economics (1995), The Imperative of Integration (2010), and Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It) (2017). She is a MacArthur Fellow and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2019, The New Yorker described her as 'a champion of the view that equality and freedom are mutually dependent [...] Anderson may be the philosopher best suited to this awkward moment in American life.'