Neoliberalism by stealth: exposing the flaw of neoliberal understandings of 'freedom'

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Thompson, LJ & Coghlan, J 2015, 'Neoliberalism by stealth: exposing the flaw of neoliberal understandings of 'freedom'', Social Alternatives, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 60-66.

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A foundational principle of classical liberalism was freedom from social and economic oppression. The contemporary neoclassical, or neoliberal, manifestation of classic liberalism applauds freedom but seems vague about the oppression it rejects. This is particularly evident when justifying neoliberal demands for deregulation, small government and market facilitation. In embracing neoliberal ideas, successive Australian governments have ignored these logical weaknesses regarding freedom and oppression while normalising free-market public policy. This paper argues that in government and public opinion, neoliberal principles continue to dominate by stealth without acknowledgement that they are oppressive rather than liberating. Policy based on such theories needs reconsideration as the logic that justified its precursor, classical liberalism, has been generalised as justification for neoliberal policy that is not grounded in the need for freedom from oppression.

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