Did the Great Recession kill neoliberalism? When British Prime Minister Theresa May renounced “selfish individualism” and “untrammelled free markets” in her party’s election manifesto, many saw it as a bold rejection of Thatcherism. Evidently, however, she wasn’t quite bold enough. Instead, Jeremy Corbyn’s support surged thanks to a Labour manifesto that didn’t so much reject neoliberalism as dance on its corpse whilst singing the Internationale.
Meanwhile, the man who borrowed Ronald Reagan’s campaign slogan, Donald Trump, is busy launching a tariff war with Europe and tearing up international trade deals. Many voters feel “left behind” by globalisation, and they have made their displeasure clear at the ballot box.
Neoliberalism, as an economic and political philosophy, is based on minimising the role of the state in the economy through privatising publicly-owned industries, cutting taxes and public expenditure, and slashing regulations and government bureaucracy. Its proponents argue that it has massively increased wealth and prosperity across the globe, lifting a billion people out of poverty since 1990. Its critics argue that neoliberalism led to the 2008 economic crisis and the Great Recession, delivering austerity for the many while enriching the few.
Is neoliberalism dead? Did the global economic crisis prove that neoliberalism has failed? Does the rise of populist politicians advocating more protectionist policies and greater state intervention pose a fatal challenge to the neoliberal project? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!