Jason Schulman. Neoliberalism, Labour governments, and working-class power-resources: a tale of the tape

National University of Ireland Maynooth
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Interface : a Journal for and about Social Movements, 2019, 11, (1), pp. 237-255
Issue Date:
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The 2007-08 Global Financial Crisis represented a violent close to a two-decade period of ascendant neoliberalism. Although in the aftermath of the crisis the political and economic structures of neoliberalism remain more-or-less intact, the system is enervate, increasingly fragile and, perhaps most importantly, lacking the sense of legitimacy and inevitability which had once been its armour: ‘dominant but dead’, in the words of Smith (2010: 54). For the first time in years, there is the sense that history is open, that alternatives to neoliberalism are taking shape on both the Right and the Left. Invigorating yet dangerous currents of anger, disenchantment, hope and energy swirl in our polities: invigorating, in that they can be harnessed in the creation of a progressive and inclusive vision of life after neoliberalism; dangerous, in that such forces can equally be pressed into the service of a resurgent far Right. To realise the former is the pressing task confronting progressive forces across the globe. However, if the Left is to proffer a cogent post-neoliberal future, it must first come to terms with the circumstances of neoliberalism’s birth and the painful truth that social democracy was complicit in its genesis. Only by identifying and acknowledging past mistakes can the ground be cleared for the progressive alternative to neoliberalism that we so sorely need.
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