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Is neoliberalism a Liberalism, or a strange kind of bird? On Hayek and our discontents
journal contributionposted on 2009-01-01, 00:00 authored by Matthew Sharpe
This paper examines the theoretical ideas of Friedrich von Hayek, arguably the key progenitor of the global economic orthodoxy of the past two decades. It assesses Hayek's thought as he presents it: namely as a form of liberalism. Section I argues that Hayek's thought, if liberal, is hostile to participatory democracy. Section II then argues the more radical thesis that neoliberalism is also in truth an illiberal doctrine. Founded not in any social contract doctrine, but a form of constructivism, neoliberal thought at its base accepts the paradoxical need to "discipline subjects for freedom", however this might contravene peoples' natural, social inclinations. The argument is framed by reference to Aristophanes' great comedy, The Birds, whose off shore borderless empire ironically prefigures the dream of neoliberal social engineers, and their corporate supporters.