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The Resilience of Neoliberalism

by Vivien Schmidt and Mark Thatcher Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Vivien A. Schmidt and Mark Thatcher propose five lines of analysis to explain its resilience: the flexibility of neoliberalism’s core principles; the gaps between neoliberal rhetoric and reality; the strength of neoliberal discourse in debates; the power of interests and the force of institutions...

to read the article by Vivien Schmidt and Mark Thatcher published on Nov 20, 2013, click on


Given the abject failure of the neoliberal policy offer, why has it persisted as the dominant approach to policymaking and is there any way out? ...

These five lines of analysis leave us with one final question: given all this resilience, is there any way out of neoliberalism? One pathway could be collapse from within, as the contradictions inherent in neoliberalism become increasingly clear—such as between the ideal of a limited state and the practice of the state playing a strong role to enhance markets. Another could be rejection from without, as the broken promises, indeed the failures, of neoliberalism become ever more apparent to citizens. Yet another is that strong ideational alternatives to neoliberalism gain strength, say, with new approaches to economic governance that put the polity before, rather than after, the economy. It is also possible that neoliberalism loses the support of powerful interests, or that new coalitions emerge. Perhaps the social democrats will begin to coalesce behind a new set of ideas. Finally, it may very well be that the institutions of neoliberalism break down, are replaced, or evolve as a result of new coalitions of interests with new ideas about how to solve the problems. But for any of these eventualities, things are likely to become much worse, before we see any new light at the end of the tunnel.

This article was first published by Policy Network and builds on the authors’ argument in their co-edited book, Resilient Liberalism in Europe’s Political Economy.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the British Politics and Policy blog, nor of the London School of Economics.

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