ABSTRACT

In modern intellectual thought the idea of neo-liberalism is primarily associated with the Austrian and Chicago schools of economics-and people like Friedrich Von Hayek (see Hayek, 1944), Alexander Rustow, Ludwig Von Mises and Milton Friedman. Their ideas continue to be fundamental to the work of infl uential policy entrepreneurs and think tanks like the Institute of Economic Aff airs and the Atlas Liberty Network. In its most general sense neo-liberalism is a post-welfare state revival of 19th-century classic or “fi rst stage” economic liberalism as exemplifi ed in the work of Adam Smith, stressing the importance of (negative) individual liberty, property rights, a minimal state and a belief that the morally neutral “invisible hand” of the market will provide. More concretely, what Brenner and Theodore (2002) call “actually existing” neo-liberalism is a set of theories, beliefs, values, social relations and practices which are enacted in diff erent spaces and on multiple levels. Neo-liberalism is something which is both “out there” and “in here” (Peck, 2003). As a material and economic phenomenon it is a set of market, trade and consumer freedoms, which allow the private sector to operate with minimal regulation within the disciplines of the market. Inequalities are inevitable, necessary but unintentional:

Neoliberalism is above all a project to restore class dominance to sectors that saw their fortunes threatened by the ascent of social democratic endeavours in the aftermath of the Second World War. (Harvey, 2007, p. 22)

However, neo-liberalism is also something that is discursively constructed and subjectively felt. Through techniques of governmentality-management, performativity, surveillance-neo-liberal discourses discipline and make

neo-liberal subjects of us all, reaching the deepest parts of our being and creating a new moral environment (Shamir, 2008), an “economisation of everything”, presented and increasingly accepted as rational and normal.