Is neoliberalism finished? Neoliberalism was a political and intellectual project whose origins lay in the 1930s and 1940s, originally championed by a group of economists and philosophers, including Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises. It aimed to revise and revitalise (hence the prefix ‘neo-’) classical liberal ideas about how the economy and society should be structured.

Few economists self-identify as neoliberals today. Indeed, the term ‘neoliberalism’ is highly contested and is more often used as a pejorative. Nevertheless, the cultural theorist Stuart Hall reasonably suggested there may be “enough common features to warrant giving it a provisional conceptual identity”. In fact, we ran a debate on neoliberalism back in 2015, and asked two academic experts (Mark Pennington and Thomas Biebricher) to give us a definition.

To get a sense whether the financial crisis and pandemic have fatally undermined neoliberalism (we recorded these interviews before Russia’s war in Ukraine) we spoke to:

💬 Yanis Varoufakis, Former Greek Finance Minister & Founder, DiEM25

💬 Katherine Trebeck, Co-Founder, Wellbeing Economy Alliance

💬 Martin Wolf, Associate Editor & Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times

They responded to comments from Rafal, Yannick, Sarah, Ainhoa and Joshua. You can see their responses in the video above.

What comes after neoliberalism? Can Kate Raworth’s “doughnut model” help set social and environmental limits for capitalism? Should Europe introduce a Universal Basic Income? Can Europe learn from Nordic social democracy and Mondragon co-operatives? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.



19 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    Just a small point:

    Why not start & thoroughly interrogate our common, but basic “Human Dignity in the UN Charter and the UDHR” first- before creating several (flawed) political……isms again? Not enough yet?

    Article 1- “All men are born free and equal in dignity”.

    That should be protected- not a system, an individual party, politician, or corporate might! Strict separation of political powers- executive, legislature & the money printers, abolish all tax havens (= political dishonesty made legitimate) with strict accountability, followed by swift prosecutions & sentences.

    In praxis, each nation should re-examine & harmonize its national Constitution (“Constitutional democracy”- not parliamentary= political) in such a way- to prevent leaders of the ruling political parties from turning a country upside down- (re: current war) into a captured, rouge, corrupt & cynical oligarchy, ending finally as a failed state.

    https://academic.oup.com/ejil/article/19/4/655/349356

    “If you give people work with tangible, visible value, you give them dignity”.

    A “Universal Basic Income” or “dividend” or whatever one calls it- is no “dignified activity”, but an unsustainable, patronising grant by unspecified entities!

    https://cbhd.org/content/human-dignity-fundamental-concept-bioethics

    That would be my reasoning to reject such an idea- which is in circulation at the moment.

    Colonies of bees have developed a better social system by now, than the many experts who suggest they found a new …” ism” out of the ongoing human conundrum.

    Rather not be born than born as a drone!

  2. avatar
    Marco

    I don’t think that crisis (from economic to covid to climate) had taught anything to policy makers. The actual war in Ucraine, how US pushed for it, how Europe can be blamed for its silence and submission to US interests, tell a different story. I have the feeling that western countries, are waking up from the capitalist hangover. they profited on lower costs coming from globalization. they profited on “delocalizing” their factories, discovering now that it would be “strategic” to keep in their countries some industries, like pharmaceutic, or being independent from the energy point of view. They discover it, only now that they realize that other superpowers, other big nations with different “social values” and different way of seeing “democracy”, can become dangerous “competitors”. What comes next? USA, the western “primus inter pares” (or better “paria”, in the indian conception?) are dictating the agenda. They can’t compete anymore on the global markets and they need to mark their “clients”, just trying to slowing down the ascent of new countries as China, India, Russia, Iran and in future African countries. What come next for me will be “protectionism” and a new economic decadence for western countries. No more fighting against climate change. It’s a cycle. I fear a war, last attempt to avoid the rebalancing of world powers.

  3. avatar
    Georg

    EU is finished. Globalism is dead.
    Sanctions, bans, and economic warfare using the $USD did the job.
    It’s not surprising as there is no “democracy” in any country, which is occupied by another.
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/…/US_military_bases_in…

  4. avatar
    Lili

    I dream at the day when people don’t need to earn money just through their daily job. They will be ensured by the state to be also shareholders for different business.

  5. avatar
    JT HK

    Unrestrained economic force would only lead to chaos and wars.

  6. avatar
    Bert

    It’s nothing more than a boogeyman term that the far left uses to push their communist agenda. No place on earth taxes its citizens more than Europe, government is overwhelmingly big and intrusive. It’s the complete opposite of neoliberalism

  7. avatar
    Lili

    To some extent, yes, but the justice and defence departments have big issues! This is proved for so long and so many times! Justice and defence departments are too far subordinated by the governments and state authorities. And when these governments and state authorities are corrupted or criminal, they always use this powers! Maybe the solution it will be that whatever major decisions justice and defence departments take, other liberal government agencies should be involve and approve them! The future societies should eliminate the installation of dictators and criminals in power!! Better legislations with the much more rights of the justice departments to exercise power over politicians, state authorities etc. To be easier for them to remove or prosecute politicians, state leaders, presidents in case that they are corrupted, use power, have criminal activities etc.

  8. avatar
    Olivier

    Ideology never solved all the societal problems.. Education is the key.. The most democratic societies are the most educated.. Scandinavian countries for example

    • avatar
      Christos

      agree, but for a successful educational system you need prosperity and stability… not all countries have this luxury or luck… 😔

    • avatar
      JT HK

      The Scandinavian countries and even the neutralized state Swiss have joined the irrational sanction of Russia without trying any effort to negotiate for peaceful means to end the conflict. The more educated the people, the more they are brainwashed by US neoliberalism. As we can see more and more political leaders and politicians lack independent and rational thinking. Blindly following the US-led albeit the American society is at the brink of collapse. Politicians are blind to the Covid death of over 1 million. Even since the 2008 Wall Street breakdown, American people have been sleeping in tents along the main roads and public parks. Europe has to think very carefully whether they would like to following the American-led to sleep on the street and Covid death climb up to 1 million.

  9. avatar
    Christos

    Ideology…. From the Greek words “Idea” and “Logos”= speech. It is the communication of ideas and nothing more, and ideas are not always right, perfect or based on reality. They need constantly to be re-evaluated, not to be taken and used as a panacea solution for every problem that arises, since as societies evolve and change, our needs change and old solutions or ideas become obsolete !! We need new ideas! But conservatives oppose and reject them! Followers of old ideologies do not want to abandon their old beliefs! They stick to them and fight for them for no real reason. They separate themselves from followers of other man made ideas because….. they need to fight about something! Human nature!

  10. avatar
    JT HK

    The justice and defence departments are not too subordinate, they are cooperating with the government and state authority. If the people are being brainwashed neoliberalism with growing populism, they would only support war, aggression and even the judicial system would become political. As we all have witnessed that even music, cat and tree, sports, literature and media have been rushed to support sanction of the political powers. It is not only NATO is brain dead, civil society is suffering the same problem. Neoliberalism has become the justification of all evils.

  11. avatar
    Helder

    Someone please explain to me what is neoliberalism?

  12. avatar
    JT HK

    If Europe cannot free itself from the old Cold War mentality and maintain its shared common goal on collective security to prevent the recurrent of a third world war, governments would not be wrongly engaged in fueling a proxy war in the Russia and Ukraine conflict. This would definitely destroy all hopes and efforts of national governments o post-Covid social and economic recovery. Before the end of the proxy war, Europe might actually paralyze itself giving more opportunity for extremism and terrorism to grow. By fueling Russia and Ukraine conflict, Europe is like committing suicide and speeding up its own disintegration, not only among member states I mean, but possibly as we can see in the America, breaking up within the country.

  13. avatar
    JT HK

    Is this so-called neo-liberal consensus including the consensus to sacrificing post-Covid social and economic recovery and even worse, the outbreak of a third world war in Europe? Do not use imagined ideology to conceal the reality of the consequence by following the neo-liberalism. Why Europe cannot walk out an independent path for the common goods of Europe rather than borrowing American political ideology on neo-liberalism which means only the liberation of capitalism instead of the people. Besides, liberalism has already cost over 5 million lives in the Covid. How many more people should be dying before politicians and ideologists admit their using of outdated theories in this new era of globalization. In this new era, power is defined by knowledge and economic power rather than hard military power.

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