What does `neoliberal’ mean?… terminology primer


Richard Moore

From: <•••@••.•••>
Date: Sat, 30 May 1998
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: ppi.035-Alliance-Labour: hope for New Zealand?

 By "neoliberal" you mean libertarian-right as in Libertarian Party (as
oppossed to "classical liberal economics" as in Adam Smith). Is that
correct?--John Trechak, Pasadena, Calif.


Dear Mejhlp,

Terminology is always a problem, especially for global audiences.  There
are many areas in which American English has become the standard,
especially in areas related to music, film, technology products, fast
foods, basketball, etc.

But when it comes to politics and anything remotely intellectual, the
American vocabulary begins to sound provincial, as is American politics.
Clinton's sex life and prizefighter's murder cases simply aren't news, from
any global perspective.  The US creates much of the world's news, both
overtly and covertly, but not much of it gets reported domestically.
Caeser goes on about his business and Rome is entertained with bread and

Here in Ireland I see American news (on Internet), Irish and UK news (on
tv), and European news in the Guardian airmail edition.  I tend to use the
terms that are becoming global standards, even though they don't find their
way into the eddy currents of US media in all cases.

And then in my recent week in Geneva, the hotbed of internationalism, of
both the evil and beneficial varieties, I got yet another update on global
terminology.  I'll give you my latest lexicon...

        neoliberal - laissez-faire capitalism; the belief that the nineteenth
        century never happened, and that the laissez-faire approach has hope
        of beneficence; a delusional system, as explicated by John Maynard
                Capitalism is the astounding belief that
                the most wickedest of men will do
                the most wickedest of things
                for the greatest good of everyone.

        the neoliberal project - globalization and its agenda of
        privatization, bankrupting governments, deregulating greed,
        and destroying democracy; the `southernization' of the north;
        the mad grab for absolute power by the capitalist elite

        the south - the third world, roughly the southern hemisphere;
        that part of the world that has been colonized for centuries and
        therefore sees little new in the neoliberal project

        the north - the first world, roughly the northern hemisphere;
        that part of the world accustomed to benefitting from colonialism
        and therefore the part that will be most dramatically affected
        by the neoliberal project (ie, `colonialism for the rest of us')

Hope this helps,