This essay charts how two important journalists, Alex Haley and Hunter S. Thompson, represent elements of the American counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in their influential writings about the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X, the Chicana/o movement, and drug culture. By analyzing The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, and Haley's and Thompson's other magazine writings for Playboy, Rolling Stone, and the Saturday Evening Post, the essay argues that Haley's and Thompson's nonfiction prose styles articulate a view of the social world that can now, retrospectively, be described as neoliberalism. The neoliberal style this essay explicates allows for subjects under neoliberalism to inhabit a position that limits politics to the confines of individual entrepreneurialism and consumerism, thus broadcasting politics as not a collective enterprise but instead a set of individual postures and consumer choices.
Daniel Worden; Neoliberal Style: Alex Haley, Hunter S. Thompson, and Countercultures. American Literature 1 December 2015; 87 (4): 799–823. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-3329602
Download citation file: