We’re continuing our exploration of neoliberalism this morning.
Daniel Stedman Jones is the author of Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics which traces the intellectual origins of neoliberalism in Europe between the World Wars, the political breakthrough that happened in the 1970s during the stagflation crisis that ended embedded liberalism and the Thirty Glorious Years and the ascendance of neoliberalism on both the Right and the Left since the early 1980s.
The postwar era can be divided into two periods: the period which lasted from 1945 until the mid-1970s, the Thirty Glorious Years, during which the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and social democracy were ascendant in the West and our current era which began in the late 1970s when the ideas of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and market liberalism became ascendant under Reagan and Thatcher. In the United States, the huge backlash against the social liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s and the economic crisis of the 1970s broke apart the New Deal coalition and created the opening for neoliberalism to become the dominant mainstream paradigm.
The Center Right has been the torch bearer of neoliberalism in the United States since the Reagan era. Conservatism, Inc., which was built around this ideology, fooled itself into believing that it was the strength of its compelling ideas rather than the populist backlash to the cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s that was responsible for its political ascendance. The mainstream Right has used its political power over the last forty years from Reagan to Trump to advance the neoliberal project while neglecting these deeper concerns. The neoliberal era has only exacerbated our cultural disintegration and economic polarization which has brought us to the present moment in which liberalism is being rejected on the Right and the Left.