Neo-Liberal Ideology: History, Concepts and Policies

By Rachel S. Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Conclusion

Neo-liberalism was one of the most significant ideological movements of the twentieth century. Its core principles captured the minds of political leaders in the Western world and helped to shape the contours of political debate. Yet the exact nature of neo-liberalism as a universal economic doctrine or ideology remains vague. This book has explored the roots of neoliberalism and its conceptual configuration in order to uncover its distinctive identity as an ideology. The central contention of the book is that neo-liberalism is a complex ideology with many different strands, but, through their common enemy, collectivism, and through their conceptual boundaries, these strands come together to form a coherent whole. The starting premise of the book, set out in the first half, was that an inquiry into the nature of neo-liberal ideology must first examine the roots of the ideology and identify its place within the wider tradition of liberalism. Utilising Michel Foucault's genealogical method of social inquiry and Terence Ball's conceptual–historical approach to ideologies, this part of the book explored the origins of neo-liberal ideology. Neo-liberalism, it contended, is an ideology that draws on aspects of different liberal movements or traditions, in particular the classical liberalism of Adam Smith and David Hume, the Lockean liberalism of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and the German Liberalismus of Immanuel Kant and Wilhelm von Humboldt. Rather than simply reviving the core ideas of these liberal movements, neo-liberalism reinterpreted them on a new ideological terrain, in reaction to the various threats it faced both from the inside and from the outside. This book has argued that neo-liberals such as F. A. Hayek, Lionel Robbins and Milton Friedman were not just reacting to the rise of socialism within national economies. Also, and more significantly,

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