Definition: Neoliberalism is an ideology that was brought to bear on the world between 1978-80, by three prominent figures, Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the UK, Ronald Reagen, President of the US, and Paul Volcker, then chair of the United States Federal Reserve. As David Harvey, Professor of Anthropology in CUNY University defines in his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism, “Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can be best advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets & free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices” (Harvey, 2). As Harvey states, the ideology of neoliberalism seeks to place a market value on all human actions by bringing them into the domain of the market. Prominent examples include water, land, education, social security, while attention also needs to be paid to the forms by which this ideology has come to infiltrate, reorganize, and become the main ideology through which many people experience and act in the world. To that end, Neoliberalism has influenced the forms by which we carry out social relations, ways of living and thinking, amongst other things (Harvey, 2-4)
The main drive to integrate Neoliberalism came about as a response to the increase in protests and resistance waged against the racial capitalist order of the world during the 1960s. The Civil Rights Movement, Student protests, and subsequent rise of the Black power movement served as an impetus for the ruling class to rejuvenate and reinforce the Racially capitalist hierarchies by that would be expanded and render Post-Colonial nation, economies, and peoples further subjugated to the ideologies of white supremacy. As such, and to resist the further popularization of these movements, a coordinated effort took place to introduce Neoliberal ideology as the rational step needed in a globalizing world. Efforts included setting up various Institutes as agents of legitimation of this ideology, such as the Manhattan Institute, while academia was also transformed through increasing privatization and adoption of Neoliberal policies that transformed education from a public good, to commodity sold to the highest bidder and branded as such. The broad deregulation procedures, transformed everything into a commodity and has allowed for the rise of what David Harvey has called “Debt Peonage” as a form of population control. It is important to further consider the roles of Milton Friedman, the ‘Chicago Boys,’ International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization, in addition to the forms by which multinational corporations are functioning around the world at the moment, as sites through which the ideology of Neoliberalism was further disseminated globally and converging as an agent of white supremacy as enshrined through Racial Capitalism.
Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford University Press, New York, 2007.
Harvey, David. The New Imperialism. Oxford University Press, New York, 2003.
Bhambra, Gurminder K., et al. Decolonising the University. Pluto Press, New York, 2018.
Landy, David, et al. Enforcing Silence: Academic Freedom, Palestine and the Criticism of Israel. Zed Books, New York, 2020.
Choudry, A. A., and Salim Vally. The University and Social Justice: Struggles Across the Globe. Pluto Press, London, 2020.
Watch Life and Debt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db-tBG_F64E
Watch Nancy Fraser Critique of Capitalism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mspR7LIP8NY&t=1608s