An anatomy of neoliberal angst, Hugh Roberts

Neoliberalism and Cultural Transition in New Zealand Literature, 1984-2008 
Jennifer Lawn
Lexington Books, $95.00,
ISBN 9780739177419

The 1984 Labour government’s legacy has been a curious Rorschach test over the years. I can recall talking to my students in classes at Victoria University in the mid-1990s and being shocked at their unquestioned assumptions about the New Zealand I’d grown up in: they envisaged a grim, Soviet-style dystopia where life revolved around the eternal wait to get government approval for your telephone service or a licence to buy the monthly allotment of the state-sanctioned brand of toothpaste. They stared at me in frank disbelief when I said that I and my generation had all grown up thinking of ourselves as living in a Western, first-world, democratic and welfare-capitalist society, not radically unlike many others.

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