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!

FOTO: CC / Flickr – R Barraez D´Lucca

50 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Neil Snape

    Nope. The bastard is still alive and kicking, it won’t be going without more fighting and making a mess.

  2. Marko Martinović

    No it is not. It is worse than ever. It is in the media and academia and it is radicalizing people with lies

  3. Oscar Bonnand

    Neo-liberalism does not exist. But liberalism has to stay alive as the best possible system .

    • Lonzo Bildelberg

      because we can be just as crazy as the communists

    • Arthur Gustin

      Neoliberalism is the most aggresive economical liberalism which is the current rulling of the global economy.

      It fragilise the states, the developped markets and slow global rights and social developpement.
      It only serves growth of wealth from those who owns capital.

  4. Ivan Burrows


    The EU is built on it, take away the free trade & deregulation part of Neoliberalism and there would be little point in Nations remaining in the union.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  5. Nikos Karitinos

    This heretical view of economics is a criminal practice that must stop , it destroyed societies and human lives by the millions

    • Edith

      Agreed. But it benefits the ruling class, the powerful and the wealthy. Consequently it will remain alive for a long time. Revolution is not on the agenda, because the masses have been cleverly transformed into a multitude of selfish individuals. This is the most creepy form of perversity of the system: it has turned citizens into consumers.

  6. Stefano Zuzzi

    No,! ; it’s because the riches are more riches, and poorer, are more poorer than ever.
    At least in my country, are there up to over 5.000.000 unemployed people and things , are going worse than better.
    I beat my numbers; it would be terrified.

  7. Stephan Caldis

    Neo Liberalism has destroyed Greece which has sold sea and airports railways power stations and is still in crisis. The working poor salaries have crashed while tax has increased. Forty years of Democracy has delivered very little.

  8. Yorgis Ali Toufexis

    Neo-liberalism is dead only in the sense that it has moved to the next stage, as in the USA: “Kill the elderly because they can no longer enrich the neo-liberals, kill the underprivileged (unless they enlist in the army and die anyway), kill all people with skin color other than pale, kill the physically disabled, kill war veterans with PTSD, kill children with any type of disability, kill most Muslims plus any non-Muslim who looks Muslim,” etc etc.
    THAT is the “normal” next stage of neo-liberalism. Oh, I forgot, “kill off all ‘losers’ who are not neo-liberal gangsters”

  9. Oli Lau

    we have states as high as 57% of the GDP in countries like France and yet the problem is that there are too many remaining freedom, people are still too selfish! I find this simply incredible. When are you going to stop your guest for an ever increasing state?

  10. Kris Pulmanns

    .. No? I hope not, at least. While Thatcher did a lot wrong, her economic policies turned Britain from one of the poorest countries in Western Europe to one of the richest. Similarly, globalisation has lifted a truly remarkable amount of people in the poorest regions of the world out of crippling poverty. Are there problems in our current economic/political climate? Sure, but Corbyn-style leftism and Trump-style rightism will equally make us all poorer in the end.

    • Jon Bromfield

      Totally disagree. Their was lack of investment. She sold of all our companies on the cheap and brought in the poll tax

  11. Rob

    If you haven’t been neo-liberalised you are probably dead anyway.

  12. James Chater

    Neoliberalism = the walking dead. Or a headless (and probably chlorinated) chicken . The younger generation will kill it off: neoliberalism is a luxury they cannot afford.

  13. ironworker

    I was tempted to say “not really, but it doesn’t look so good and smells bad”. Unfortunately neo liberalism it’s far away from giving up and it’s ready to make more innocent victims. The worst was yet to come, tighten your seat belts.

  14. Klaus Pedersen

    Liberalism was never the problem. It was the misconception that, in order for markets to thrive, you have to deregulate. In fact, the opposite is true. The market forces can only thrive in a system which has checks and balances that protect competition from monopolistic behaviour and bubble-inducing casino-like financial instruments.

  15. Tarquin Farquhar

    No. The EU is a world-leading practitioner of [subtle] neoliberalism.

  16. Trinus de Vries

    Nope. The monster is still very much alive and we are only feeling the first grim impacts. There is something to be said for free enterprise but it has gone way too far. Europe would benefit from a moderate dose of socialism ( without going looney left) to get things a bit more balanced again.

  17. Indrius Kairys

    Neoliberalism doesn’t exist, it’s a meme created and perpetuated by the clueless. The West is actually very socialist. Try making a million euros in western Europe and see how much tax you will have to pay, then tell us about neoliberalism again.

    • EU Reform- Proactive

      Seemingly so- really? Indrius Kairys funny, you might have just insulted the “EU-CoNmission”- quite innocently- calling them clueless. They will be ever grateful for you’re “insight”!

      Isn’t it the small businessman/employee- “the unconnected”- who struggles & pays the taxes, not the big lobbying & “exempted” corporations? Try again.

    • Rosamaria Bitetti

      Time is scarce, non leggo cose con neoliberismo nel titolo, a meno che non le scriva fuffaro

  18. EU Reform- Proactive

    Simple- or? Why divert attention to Thatcherism, Reganism or Trumpism?

    Neoliberalism as understood & practiced by the EU: as an extreme right-wing capitalist economic philosophy & EU “neoliberals” supporting it? Or- is a “neo-liberal” a “statist socialist”? All believed dead?

    Such system promotes & allows “freedom” from: national tradition, parliamentary authority, honesty & accountability -all still vested within its national members voters- yes? That sounds like state mandated corporatism = fascism? God knows what’s next- if we keep digging?

    As long as there is an electrical current in any human brain- none of its “concoctions” are dead! Like viruses- the may become dormant but mutate into new ones!

    Why does the US harp about Germany & vice versa? Germany reaping without planting? Benefiting from NATO & pocketing economical benefits without justly contributing- are very honest reasons to be “reminded” about being dishonest!

    Trade war? Even bankrupt(ted) Greece (forced?) pays 2.32% of GDP towards NATO, putting Germany with only 1.22% to shame. And- Merkel is crying?

    Stop it, Angela- just pay up & play ball and explain this:


  19. catherine benning

    NeoLiberalism is propaganda. And as Chomsky said, ‘it is neither New or Liberal’ In other words it is a con game. And cons are always exposed and die on revelation.

    The joke here is, Politicians fell for it hook line and sinker. They are morons who should face Henry VIII treatment immediately.


  20. Peter O.

    Hard to say what exactly it means for an idea to “be dead”. No man has the power to kill a political philosophy. It can only be more or less popular at some moment.
    Mayby a little bit history at the beginning: The term “neoliberalism” relates to a comeback to classical liberal ideas after a more “social” period in the history of liberal thought. The first time it was used at a meeting of classical liberal intelectuals under the mountain Mont Pelerin (Switzerland) in 1938. It’s a more historical than ideological term and the basic prinicples of so called “neoliberalism have never been written down. As Mario Vargas Losa said: “I’ve known a lot of liberals, but no single one neoliberal”.
    So let’s answer the question in another form: are the principles of free market economy unpopular at the moment? Yes, they are. Is it right to consider free market liberalism an outdateted or harmful idea? Deffinetely not.
    Quoting a former Czech President and dissident, Vaclav Havel, “Though my heart may be left of centre, I have always know the only economic system that works is a market economy. This is the only natural economy, the only kind that makes sense, the only one that leads to prosperity, because it is the only one that reflects the nature of life itself”.

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