This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional. Please forward this error screen to 64. Neoliberalism defined, and compared to classic political liberalism and market-liberalism. In this sense, it is widely used in South America.
Neoliberalism’ is often used interchangeably with ‘globalisation’. But free markets and global free trade are not new, and this use of the word ignores developments in the advanced economies. The analysis here compares neoliberalism with its historical predecessors. Neoliberalism is not just economics: it is a social and moral philosophy, in some aspects qualitatively different from liberalism. Last changes 02 December 2005. You may republish and reproduce the content of this webpage, for non-commercial and academic purposes. The definition of neoliberalism presented here is more abstract than usual — but it also suggests that neoliberalism has been underestimated.
Neo-liberalism is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. World Bank and the Inter- American Development Bank. 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That’s what makes it ‘neo’ or new. This sense of the word ‘neoliberalism’ is widely used in Latin America. However, neoliberalism is more a phenomenon of the rich western market democracies, than of poor regions.
That is why I emphasise the historical development of liberalism, in those western market democracies. The IMF and the World Bank are not the right places to look, to see the essence of neoliberalism. And the WTO ideology — free trade and ‘competitive advantage’ — is 200 years old. There is nothing ‘neo’ in their liberalism. The image of ‘neoliberalism’ has been heavily influenced by the protests against it: people think of the violent protests at Seattle and Genoa, and the associated social movements. If you only thought about that, then neoliberalism would be an ideology of the riot police, and that’s not accurate. It’s true that the Genoa G8 summit was intended as a show of force.
The organisers knew that violent demonstrations were probable in an Italian city, but chose to confront them. Democratically elected leaders «should not run from demonstrators», said Tony Blair. 20 000 police and soldiers were deployed at the Genoa G8 summit — NATO used 42 500 troops to occupy Kosovo. It is possible for ‘the state’ to suppress ‘the market’, but also to promote it. In fact, the free market emerged in Europe under the protection of the state, and the market needs the state, more than the other way around. The market needs internal regulation, in order to function: the state, in the form of the legal system, ensures contracts are enforced. In the form of the police, it prevents theft and fraud.
It establishes uniform systems of weights and measures, and a uniform currency. Without these things there would be no free market, no market forces, and no resulting market society. Bill Gates disputes the US Government’s authority over his business — but if there was no government at all, the poor would soon steal his wealth. The attack on the World Trade Center provided some images of this dependency — the reopening of the New York Stock Exchange by police and firefighters, for instance. The free market is itself a form of social organisation: it is neither spontaneous nor endemic to humans. If no-one ever promoted or enforced it, there would be no free market on this planet.
For thousands of years, there was none. The modern free market came into existence primarily because liberalism demanded its existence. This demand was a a political demand, and it was enforced through the state. The general functionalist starting premise is only modified to the extent that the «system» is comprehended as capitalist, in a specific way «form-determined». The state and the political system function as a form of an ‘ideal all-around capitalist’, who must uphold not just the society as such, but the ‘capitalist element’. The different forms of state interventionism are explained both as an expression of functional needs of the accumulation and reproduction process of capital. The general requirements of capital accumulation such as basic infrastructure, functioning law systems and legitimization mechanisms are tasks that cannot be carried out by individual capitalists due to the competition relations, but instead systemically require a «fictive all-around-capitalist». This «capitalist referee» must guarantee the fulfilment of these tasks in the interest of maintaining the system of capitalist society. Volker Schneider and Marc Tenbuecken, 2002. If everyone on this planet was a liberal, an enthusiastic supporter of the free market, then that would be the end of the matter.