George Orwell once said that “the word ‘fascism’ has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’”. The word ‘neoliberalism’ knows exactly how it feels.
How did a term coined by a group of anti-authoritarian German economists in the 1930s to label a philosophy that stressed the role of the state in ensuring efficient competition turn into more of an insult than a description 50 years later? Has the nationalist tide that swept through Washington, London, Rome, Brasília, and Budapest brought the neoliberal era to end or helped relaunch its “third wave”? What differentiates neo- from ordo- from classical liberalism?
In this second edition of Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2021), Manfred Steger and Ravi Roy seek to answer these questions, and retell the history of an idea, its mutations and its future.
Manfred Steger is Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Ravi Roy is Associate Professor of Political Science and W. Edwards Deming Fellow in Public Affairs at Southern Utah University.
*The authors’ book recommendations are Other People's Money: Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People? by John Kay (Profile Books, 2016) and Imperium by Robert Harris (Arrow, 2009).
Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.
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