Critics of neo-liberalism have been slow to develop cogent alternative perspectives, and have found themselves defending outdated models of classical liberal internationalism based on centralized sovereign states. Too often they neglect the significant changes in the form and functions of the state, or the public sphere more generally, which have resulted from widespread experiences of state failure. This includes not only the collapse of state socialism, but also crises and radical reforms of developed capitalist states, including US regulated corporatism, European-style social-democratic welfare states, and the developmental states of Japan and the Asian tigers. The reasons have been equally diverse, and have involved a mixture of political and economic factors. Nevertheless, these processes can be seen to have much in common, involving a transition to postindustrial capitalism, or what has been called the Information Age (Castells 1998).
Remodelling the 'public' sphere of politics is part of a broader process of social and economic restructuring, including its relationship to the 'private' sphere of economic activity. At the same time, major transformations have also been occurring in the forms of organization of so-called private enterprise, that is to say the business economy dominated by the giant corporation. Large-scale mass manufacturing has been reorganized, and the centralized bureaucratic firm has become the 'lean and mean' corporation, concentrating on its core competencies, but operating within a web of strategic alliances, supplier chains, and financial and governmental networks (Harrison 1994).
These changes have in many ways been driven by social pressures from below: widespread revolts against autocratic power in the family and the factory, the classroom and the boardroom. These generally entail a rejection of authoritarian domination and the power to control truth embodied in tradition, involving demands for increased personal freedom and dignity, equality (notably, between women and men), and the ending of coercion (Giddens 1999). Rather than the desire for economic liberalization bringing about political democratization, as suggested by triumphant liberalism, it has been the