Neoliberalism Is Liberalism

Friedrich Hayek, the founder of what today we call neoliberalism, said back in 1957 that any alliance between neoliberals and conservatives was temporary and situational.

Hayek was right. Neoliberalism is ultimately still liberalism. It’s anti-conservative by nature. It’s a wave that sweeps away traditions, institutions, and stable underpinnings of life, carrying us all towards an unknown future.

This is why the Left has embraced neoliberalism with such ease and delight. That’s why the Left is so good at it. And that is why the future of conservatism lies in dropping the heavy burden of neoliberalism that keeps losing it elections. Everybody who likes neoliberalism already has a party. It is the Democrat party.

10 thoughts on “Neoliberalism Is Liberalism

  1. OT: russian tv tempts parents by pointing out the goodies they can get if they send their sons to die in Ukraine… (with subs)

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  2. “a wave that sweeps away traditions, institutions”

    I didn’t have time to comment at the time but when I was in Bulgaria someone wondered how neoliberalism could attack something which was the foundation of the economy…. my thought was: “That’s exactly why they’re attacking it! It’s all destruction all the time which works out great for a tiny group at the top with no connection to anything….”

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  3. Neoliberalism is the very essence of conservatism. The left wants there to be governmental guarantees of a safety net for unfortunate victims of capitalism, natural disasters, etc. We want people to have free education paid for with tax money. The right wants an “every man for himself”, where if you are born poor, you stay that way, and if you are born rich, you likely stay that way. Social Security is still something that Conservatives hate. Reagan started the process of dismantling it, by making the income from it taxable. What he and other conservatives since wanted was to eliminate it completely. Liberals want to strengthen Social Security.

    I would not starve if Social Security were abolished tomorrow, but a lot of retirees would. I cannot think of anything that is liberal in neoliberalism.

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    1. This all used to be true, my friend, but it no longer is. Who was it that closed down schools for almost two years and effectively threw a significant percentage of disadvantaged kids out of the public education system for good? And who fought to keep schools open? Who fought to make sure that kids could come to school and keep getting a free lunch throughout COVID?

      Republican governors kept schools open while Democrats kept them closed. We all saw it.

      And who’s the president who very recently tried to take free lunches away from schools that refuse to practice his quite outlandish ideology? That was Biden.

      The liberals who were in favor of the welfare state are long gone.

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      1. Yes, and wasn’t there a big push to defund the police, an essential service for poor neighborhoods where private security isn’t an option?

        I saw a video today of BLM activists haranguing a woman after she’d had her apartment shot full of holes while she and her kids were inside. Why? Because police shot and killed the man who shot up her apartment, and she and her kids survived. The temerity!

        Clearly, these are the actions of die-hard conservatives…

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          1. “welfare protections are being dismantled under our noses”

            The actions of the democrats in the US basically remind me of a mafia bust out….

            shorter version: run up debt, strip assets and burn it down or walk away when it’s at the point of collapse…

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    2. @David Bellamy
      “Neoliberalism is the very essence of conservatism.”

      Neoliberalism cannot be the very essence of conservatism given that it is predicated on the idea of constant change – which Neoliberal exponents call progress – as the summum bonum of society.
      As a result, Neoliberalism has no concept of permanent values except that which is expedient. All and any values are instead seen as perennially in flux and as constantly evolving. This in turn makes it both conceptually and practically impossible to create any notion of attachment and rootedness, which are, on the contrary, the very staples of any conservative thought: the idea that there are certain transcendent, unchanging and enduring values which we are entrusted not only with preserving (the meaning of “conservative”) but more especially with perpetuating, handing them down from one generation to the next to the best of our ability with an ever clearer understanding of their purpose and meaning.
      Conservatism as a mindset is dynamic, not static: certain values are preserved so that they can be of use to each new generation, not to be invoked as mantras or, even worse, to be worshiped as items in glass cases in a museum of irrelevance.

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  4. Ever read Paul Ricoeur’s writings?

    It’s the contagion of suspicion that then forces an ideological framework to be a reduction of a vision of utopia.

    Happened to Marx, happened to Freud, happened to Hayek.

    Doing this not-so-clever intellectual trick is the easy way out of backing yourself into the corner in which you notice that there are no longer any other corners you can back yourself into, and so the writing comes from the one they know best.

    Neoliberalism in architecture is hugely fun to analyse as a form of suspicion gone too far: check out Douglas Spencer’s book called “The Architecture of Neoliberalism”.

    Hal Foster’s book “Design and Crime” may also be useful from the perspective of understanding a “political economy of design”, in which some of the more ambitious believe they can implement Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) as a constructivist utopian scheme.

    Bold blandishments and promising pronouncements are merely philosophical cladding for the architectural programme that tries to hide its true roots.

    But there is literally (and figuratively) an entire landscape of philosophy and ideology that forms the architectural backbone for this movement.

    Paul Ricoeur may have had the way out of the mess too early, because he had a broader philosophy that didn’t back him into a single corner from which all future fights would be launched.

    At least we’re farther along with this now than people quoting Charles Jencks at me, that there are bigger problems than the so-called “postmodern turn” or irony as a way of smuggling postmodern samizdat …

    And no, neoliberalism is not the essence of conservativism in any form other than an idealist wish toward makeshift utopias in which the adherents accept suspicion and cynicism as an interim coping scheme, but long for a day in which they may be less available.

    Imagine utopias so potent that they forestall the need to talk about them.

    Naturally you’re immediately suspicious. 🙂

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