The political limitations of neoliberalism

“Neoliberalism is inimical to economic democracy and it hollows out political democracy. The neoliberal discourse and practice of TINA (There Is No Alternative) blocks the political expression of dissent and feeds apathy, populism and the far right. This is the outcome of a neoliberal political project including a modality of democracy that isolates the political from the socio-economic sphere, restricts democracy to the former, and limits democracy to voting in elections while, simultaneously, imposing a strongly illiberal agenda towards civil liberties and collective action. The crisis of this modality of democracy has become evident through increasing global instability and the proliferation of ‘pseudo-‘ or ‘illiberal’ democracies and ‘electoral authoritarian’ regimes, ‘failed states’, civil wars and ‘terrorism’, especially in the post-colonial world. The limitations of conventional democracy have also raised concerns in the ‘advanced’ West, where large numbers of people now reject ritualistic elections leading to power scarcely distinguishable political parties as a means of addressing their economic and political concerns. Despite their limitations, the ‘Arab Spring’ and the emerging popular movements in crisis-hit Western economies have reiterated their aspiration for a substantive form of democracy, encompassing the ‘economic’ domain that has been insulated by neoliberalism – that is, including substantive choices about the nature of social provision, the structure of employment, and the distribution of income.”

Alfredo Saad-Filho (2019), Value and Crisis, Ch.10, p.217

One thought on “The political limitations of neoliberalism

  1. At least since the 1980s when Mitterand, campaigning as a radical socialist, proved a turncoat once in power, embracing austerity and neoliberal policies, the left has passionately adopted neoliberalism.

    In this way, social democracy has practically disappeared in Europe.

    The left is thoroughly committed to the anti-democratic and anti-social EU, which is about as neoliberal a construction as you can get one.

    In short: the most powerful promoter of neoliberalism has been the left, which to that purpose has abolished its old own self (and its former primary concern for a balance of power between capital and labour and other interests of the working population) and has become a branch of the green religion that increasingly replaces Christianity in the West.

    Pointing to this development is likely to earn you a classification as a right-winger or even a Nazi.

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