I find the definition and critique by Felicia Wong (CEO of the Roosevelt Institute) of “neoliberalism” is a good place to start. I first heard it here on the Ezra Klein podcast.

Here is the the philosophy of neoliberalism:

  • If companies are strong and focus on their own profits, they’ll create a world of prosperity and greater social equality.
  • Governments should structure markets very lightly or not at all so that corporations can do their thing.
  • Public choice is better than ‘politics’

Here are the goals of neoliberalism:

  • create more jobs for more people at higher wages
  • help us end the business cycle and create more stable economy
  • stimulate GDP growth

Given where we are now, neoliberalism has failed on its own merits.

What neoliberalism failed to see coming:

  • our economies have become incredibly financialized with more and more companies making money from making money than from providing real growth and services and not throwing off good, middle-income jobs
  • markets were expected to fail but not in spectacular and profound ways
  • climate change was not seen as tied to corporate behavior
  • companies left to their own devices will rarely do the right thing (for society)

For more on this and how we might find a way out, check out - “The Emerging Worldview: How New Progressivism Is Moving Beyond Neoliberalism”.

Alternative (progressive) ideologies to neoliberalism:

New Structuralists (e.g. Elizabeth Warren) - focus on governments role on setting guardrails and rules for the market; government is the cop on the beat that are going to make sure that markets work well and corporates stay in line.

Public Providers (e.g. Bernie Sanders) - focus on State action to provide more public goods that are essential for human rights and to promote social equanimity.

Economic Transformer (e.g. Joe Biden) - focus on deploying the power of government to catalyze grand scale economic change, create new industries, create new markets.

Economic Democratists (e.g. Stacy Abrams) - focus on building democratic institutions to make all of the other ideologies possible and increase public engagement and power in policy decision-making.