The False Promise and Bitter Fruit of Neoliberalism


Thomas Palley - TRANSCEND Media Service

Political Economic Disembedding, Cultural Transformation, and the Rise of Proto-Fascist Politics


11 Oct 2022 – Neoliberalism is a political economic philosophy that consists of two claims, one economic and the other political. The economic claim is free market laissez-faire economies are the best way to organize economic activity as they generate efficient outcomes that maximize well-being. The political claim is free market economic arrangements promote individual liberty. This paper argues both claims are problematic.

The evidence from the forty-year experiment that began in 1980 shows Neoliberalism has undercut shared prosperity and unleashed illiberal forces that threaten liberty. The paper distinguishes between the first political turn which saw the establishment of Neoliberal political hegemony, and the second political turn toward proto-fascism that we are now experiencing.

The second turn is being driven by a collection of factors which have created a demand for proto-fascism and weakened the defenses against alt-right ideas. Those factors include socio-economic disembedding, institutional destruction and political disembedding, increased economic inequality that tilts political power, transformation of attitudes to government and governance, transformation of economic identity, and cultural transformation that celebrates sociopathic egotism.

The Third Way’s capture of center-left politics means liberal elites occupy the political place that should be held by true opponents of Neoliberalism. Those liberal elites obstruct the politics needed to reverse the deep causes of the drift to proto-fascism. Ironically, that makes those elites a real danger.



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Thomas PalleyEconomics for Democratic and Open Societies

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One Response to “The False Promise and Bitter Fruit of Neoliberalism”

  1. Josée Vaillancourt says:

    Thank you for making your historical definition of neoliberalism and its political as well as economic consequences in the Western world. To me neoliberalism finds its route in the addiction to wealth which has translated itself in the need to colonize and isolate the victim of their theft of land and resources. All around me I see people struggling to recover a sense of community where they can feel accepted for who they are and where they can find meaningful support and guidance. The Western world likes to compartiment everything and use the resulting isolation as a weapon of choice to ensure that they can continue to nurse their love of economic wealth. Could we describe neoliberals as addicts out of control? If so, maybe once we figure out how to tackle the root cause of drug addictions in our cities we can then figure out a way to tackle this addiction to economic wealth and control of others. There seems to be many forms of colonialism. I believe neoliberalism to be one of those forms.