Definition of Neloliberalism

Here’s a good definition of neoliberalism from Ventura’s Neoliberal Culture:

Neoliberalism at one level is a set of economic and political policies and ideologies favoring corporatism, privatization of public enterprises, and the reduction of state power and intervention. But neoliberalism is also a governmentality—that is, the way subjects think about the collection of practices, techniques, and rationalities used to govern them and which they use to govern themselves. Neoliberal government represents the population’s wellbeing as intimately tied to individuals’ abilities to make market principles the guiding values of their lives, to see themselves as products to create, sell, and optimize.

Bluntly put, neoliberalism is the withdrawal of government from most spheres it used to control and the attendant belief among citizens that it’s a good thing.

Most people don’t believe that it’s great for the government to withdraw from all spheres of life. It’s a selective thing that is based on individual political preferences. Some folks think it’s great that the government withdraws from regulating business. Others, that the government should retreat from enforcing state borders. The really funny thing is that a free-marketeer and a free-borderist think they are politically opposed when in reality they are both adepts of neoliberalism.

But that’s how neoliberalism acts. It kills politics by erasing real political differences and putting fake ones in their place. No government, no political solidarity, just the freedom to sell and be sold that knows no physical or symbolic borders or constraints. Why, for instance, do liberals so eagerly attack their own for imaginary transgressions of speech codes? Because you need to be punished for being an imperfect product. Products in the same brand need to be identical, so off with you, freak, if your packaging is a bit faulty.


One thought on “Definition of Neloliberalism”

  1. Thank you for this explanation. I am often puzzled by neoliberalism, but this makes a ton of sense to me, especially the beating into brand submission that neoliberals do. I hate that!!!

    Is there any place in the world for an old-school liberal these days? Or has capitalism made it impossible to base policies on traditional liberalism?


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