Centers: Liberalism

  • Chamsy el-OjeiliEmail author


In this chapter, el-Ojeili explores the utopian dimension of contemporary liberalism. Surveying liberalism’s historical transformations, el-Ojeili examines the future-oriented contours of the neo-liberalism dominant within wealthy nations since the 1980s. In the wake of the global financial crisis, el-Ojeili argues, we see a splintering of liberalism into three important fragments. First, we see an increasingly contingent and punitive neo-liberalism of austerity, which retreats from leadership and seeks to preserve extant power relations. Second, we find a neo-Keynesian turn, which frequently combines the language of enterprise and competition with a drive toward careful, selective regulation, toward a more socially justified capitalism. Third, we see the advance of a “liberalism of fear”, which evokes a number of threatening dystopian figures—populism, protectionism, the 1930s, extremism, and, totalitarianism.


Contemporary liberalism Neo-liberalism Neo-Keynesianism Dystopian Democracy 


  1. Alexander, J. C. (1995). Modern, anti, post and neo. New Left Review, I/210, 63–101.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, P. (2002). Internationalism: A breviary. New Left Review, 14, 5–25.Google Scholar
  3. Arrighi, G., Hopkins, T., & Wallerstein, I. (1989). Antisystemic movements. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Government. (2015). Preventing violent extremism and radicalization in Australia. Attorney-General’s Department.Google Scholar
  5. Azzara, S. G. (2011). Settling accounts with liberalism: On the work of Domenico Losurdo. Historical Materialism, 19(2), 92–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Badiou, A. (2001). Ethics. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  7. Badiou, A. (2012). The rebirth of history: Times of riots and uprisings. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  8. Balakrishnan, G. (2002). The oracle of post-democracy. New Left Review, 13(January–February), 152–160.Google Scholar
  9. Balakrishnan, G. (2009). Speculations on the stationary state. New Left Review, 59(September–October), 5–26.Google Scholar
  10. Barber, B. R. (1996). Jihad versus McWorld: How globalism and tribalism are reshaping the world. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  11. Bauman, Z. (1989). Modernity and the Holocaust. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bauman, Z. (1991). Modernity and ambivalence. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Bauman, Z. (1998). Work, consumerism, and the new poor. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Bauman, Z. (1999a). Globalization: The human consequences. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  15. Bauman, Z. (1999b). Postmodernity or living with ambivalence. In A. Elliott (Ed.), The Blackwell reader in contemporary social theory. Cambridge: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  16. Bauman, Z. (1999c). In search of politics. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  17. Bauman, Z. (2003). Utopia with no topos. History of the Human Sciences, 16(1), 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bauman, Z. (2007). Sociology, nostalgia, utopia and mortality: A conversation with Zygmunt Bauman. European Journal of Social Theory, 10(2), 305–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Beilharz, P. (1994). Postmodern socialism: Romanticism, city and state. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Bidet, J. (2018). Neoliberalism facing its subjects: A metastructural approach. Historical Materialism. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from
  21. Blackburn, R. (2011). Crisis 2.0. New Left Review, 72(November–December), 33–62.Google Scholar
  22. Boltanski, L., & Chiapello, E. (2005). The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Brown, W. (2007). American nightmare: Neoliberalism, neoconservatism and de-democratization. Political Theory, 34(6), 690–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Brown, W. (2015). Undoing the demos: Neoliberalism’s stealth revolution. New York: Zone Press.Google Scholar
  25. Bruff, I. (2014). The rise of authoritarian neoliberalism. Rethinking Marxism, 26(1), 113–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Castells, M. (2000). The information age: Economy, society and culture—The rise of the network society. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  27. Castoriadis, C. (2003). The Rising Tide of insignificancy. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from
  28. Chiapello, E., & Faairclough, N. (2002). Understanding the new management ideology: A transdisciplinary contribution from critical discourse analysis and new sociology of capitalism. Discourse and Society, 13(2), 185–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Crouch, C. (2004). Post-democracy. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  30. Crouch, C. (2016). The march towards post-democracy, ten years on. The Political Quarterly, 87(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Davies, W. (2016). The new neoliberalism. New Left Review, 101(September–October), 121–134.Google Scholar
  32. Davies, W. (2017). The limits of neoliberalism: Authority, sovereignty and the logic of competition. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Davis, M., & Monk, D. B. (2007). Evil paradises: Dreamworlds of neoliberalism. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  34. Dean, J. (2009). Democracy and other neoliberal fantasies: Communicative capitalism and left politics. Durham: Duke.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Dean, J. (2014). After post-politics: Occupation and the return of communism. In J. Wilson & E. Swyngedouw (Eds.), Spaces of depoliticisation, spectres of radical politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Debray, R. (2007). Socialism: A fife-cycle. New Left Review, 46, 5–28.Google Scholar
  37. D’Eramo, M. (2013). Populism and the new oligarchy. New Left Review, 82(July–August), 5–28.Google Scholar
  38. D’Eramo, M. (2017). They, the people. New Left Review, 103(January–February).Google Scholar
  39. Dunn, B. (2017). Against neoliberalism as a concept. Capital and Class, 41(3), 435–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Durand, C. (2017). Fictitious capital: How finance is appropriating our future. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  41. Durand, C., & Keucheyan, R. (2015). Bureaucratic Caesarism: A Gramscian outlook on the crisis of Europe. Historical Materialism, 23(2), 23–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Elliott, G. (2006). Parisian impostures. New Left Review, 41(September–October), 139–145.Google Scholar
  43. Emmott, B. (2017). The fate of the West: The battle to save the world’s most successful political idea. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  44. European Union. (2012). Treaty on stability, coordination and governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. Retrieved July 24, 2018, from
  45. Fisher, M. (2009). Capitalist realism: Is there no alternative?. Hants: Zero Books.Google Scholar
  46. Flew, T. (2014). Six theories of neoliberalism. Thesis Eleven, 122(1), 49–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Freedan, M. (2008). European liberalisms: An essay in comparative political thought. European Journal of Political Theory, 7(1), 9–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the 21st century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  49. G20. (2010, June 26–27). The G-20 Toronto summit declaration. Retrieved October 24, 2018, from
  50. Galbraith, J. K. (2014). The end of normal: The great crisis and the future of growth. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  51. Gauchet, M. (2000). A new age of personality: An essay on the psychology of our times. Thesis Eleven, 60, 23–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Gill, S. (2015). Reimagining the future: Some critical reflections. In S. Gill (Ed.), Critical perspectives on the crisis of global governance. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Gordon, S. (1991). The history and philosophy of social science. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Gowan, P. (2001). Neoliberal cosmopolitanism. New Left Review, 11(September–October), 79–93.Google Scholar
  55. Gray, J. (2007). Black mass: Apocalyptic religion and the death of utopia. London: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.Google Scholar
  56. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Hobsbawm, E. (1962). Age of revolution 1789–1848. New York: Mentor.Google Scholar
  58. Hobsbawm, E. (1992). Nations and nationalism since 1780: Programme, myth, reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  59. International Monetary Fund. (2009). Global financial stability report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  60. International Monetary Fund. (2011). World economic outlook update. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  61. International Monetary Fund. (2012a). World economic outlook. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  62. International Monetary Fund. (2012b). Global financial stability report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  63. International Monetary Fund. (2013). Global financial stability report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  64. International Monetary Fund. (2014). World economic outlook update. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  65. International Monetary Fund. (2015). Global financial stability report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  66. International Monetary Fund. (2017). Global financial stability report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  67. International Monetary Fund. (2018a). World economic outlook update. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  68. International Monetary Fund. (2018b). Global financial stability report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  69. International Monetary Fund. (2019, January). World economic outlook, update. Retrieved April 2, 2019, from
  70. Jacoby, R. (1999). The end of utopia: Politics and culture in an age of apathy. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  71. Jameson, F. (2000). Globalization and political strategy. New Left Review, 4, 49–68.Google Scholar
  72. Jameson, F. (2016). An American utopia: Dual power and the universal army. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  73. Jones, C. (2013). Can the market speak?. London: Zero Books.Google Scholar
  74. Jones, O. (2016). Chavs: The demonization of the working class. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  75. Krugman, P. (2012). End this depression now!. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  76. Legrain, P. (2002). Open world: The truth about globalization. London: Abacus.Google Scholar
  77. Legrain, P. (2010). Aftershock: Reshaping the world economy after the crisis. London: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  78. Levitas, R. (1986). Competition and compliance: The utopias of the new right. In R. Levitas (Ed.), The ideology of the new right. Oxford: Polity.Google Scholar
  79. Levitas, R. (2013). Utopia as method: The imaginary reconstitution of society. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Lilla, M. (2001). The reckless mind: Intellectuals in politics. New York: New York Review of Books.Google Scholar
  81. Lilla, M. (2016). The shipwrecked mind: On political reaction. New York: New York Review of Books. EPUB format.Google Scholar
  82. Losurdo, D. (2011). Liberalism: A counter-history. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  83. Losurdo, D. (2015). War and revolution: Rethinking the twentieth century. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  84. Losurdo, D. (2016). Class struggle: A political and philosophical history. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Luce, E. (2017). The retreat of Western liberalism. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.Google Scholar
  86. Mair, P. (2006). Ruling the void? The hollowing of Western democracy. New Left Review, 42, 25–51.Google Scholar
  87. Mann, G. (2017). In the long run we are all dead: Keynesianism, political economy and revolution. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  88. Marx, K. (1887). Capital: A critical analysis of capitalist production (Vol. I). Moscow: Progress Publishers.Google Scholar
  89. Mazlish, B. (1989). A new science: The breakdown of connections and the birth of sociology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  90. McLennan, G. (1996). Post-Marxism and the ‘four sins’ of modernist theorizing. New Left Review, I/218(July–August), 53–74.Google Scholar
  91. McLennan, G. (2006). Sociological cultural studies: Reflexivity and positivity in the human sciences. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. McLennan, G. (2010). The postsecular turn. Theory, Culture and Society, 27(4), 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. McManus, P. (2017). Happy dystopians. New Left Review, 105(May–June), 81–105.Google Scholar
  94. Melamed, J. (2006). The spirit of neoliberalism: From racial liberalism to neoliberal multiculturalism. Social Text, 24(4), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Milibank, J., & Pabst, A. (2016). The politics of virtue: Post-liberalism and the human future. London: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  96. Moore, M. (2009). Saving globalization: Why globalization and democracy offer the best hope for progress, peace and development. West Sussex: Wiley.Google Scholar
  97. Mouffe, C. (2005). On the political. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  98. Muller, J.-W. (2016). What is populism?. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Peck, J. (2010a). Constructions of neoliberal reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Peck, J. (2010b). Zombie neoliberalism and the ambidextrous state. Theoretical Criminology, 14(1), 104–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Peck, J., Theodore, N., & Brenner, N. (2012). Neoliberalism resurgent? Market rule after the great recession. South Atlantic Quarterly, 111(2), 265–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Piketty, T. (2015). Capital in the twenty-first century. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.Google Scholar
  103. Polanyi, K. (1944). The great transformation. New York: Farrar and Rinehart.Google Scholar
  104. Ranciere, J. (2010). Chronicles of consensual times. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  105. Reich, R. (2016). Saving capitalism: For the many, not the few. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  106. Ross, K. (2002). May ’68 and its afterlives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  107. Rundell, J. (2003). Modernity, Enlightenment, revolution and Romanticism. In G. Ritzer & B. Smart (Eds.), Handbook of social theory. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  108. Sachs, J. (2017). Building the new American economy—Smart, fair, and sustainable. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. Saiedi, N. (1993). The birth of social theory: Social thought in the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Lanham: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  110. Schiller, N. (2016). A liberalism of fear. Cultural Anthropology. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from
  111. Silver, B. J. (2005). Forces of labour: Workers’ movements and globalization since 1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  112. Stiglitz, J. E. (2012). The price of inequality. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  113. Streeck, W. (2016). How will capitalism end? Essays on a failing system. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  114. Swyngedouw, E. (2010). Apocalypse forever? Post-political populism and the spectre of climate change. Theory, Culture and Society, 27(2–3), 213–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  115. Szalai, J. (2018). ‘Crashed’ connects the dots from 2008 crisis to Trump, Brexit and more. New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2018, from
  116. Therborn, G. (2009). From Marxism to post-Marxism?. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  117. Tormey, S. (1995). Making sense of tyranny: Interpretations of totalitarianism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  118. Toscano, A. (2010). Fanaticism: On the uses of an idea. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  119. Traverso, E. (2003). The origins of Nazi violence. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  120. Traverso, E. (2016a). Fire and blood: The European civil war, 1914–1945. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  121. Traverso, E. (2016b). Left-wing melancholia: Marxism, history, and memory. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  122. Traverso, E. (2017a). Historicizing communism: A twentieth century chameleon. South Atlantic Quarterly, 116(4), 763–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  123. Traverso, E. (2017b). Totalitarianism between history and theory. History and Theory, 55, 97–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  124. Traverso, E. (2019). The new faces of Fascism: Populism and the far right. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  125. Venugopal, R. (2015). Neoliberalism as concept. Economy and Society, 44(2), 165–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  126. Wagner, P. (2001). A history and theory of the social sciences. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  127. Wallerstein, I. (1990). Antisystemic movements: History and dilemmas. In S. Amin, G. Arrighi, A. G. Frank, & I. Wallerstein (Eds.), Transforming the revolution: Social movements and the world system. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  128. Wallerstein, I. (2002). New revolts against the system. New Left Review, 18. Retrieved August 18, 2013, from
  129. Wallerstein, I. (2011). The modern world-system IV: Centrist liberalism triumphant, 1789–1914. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  130. Wilson, J., & Swyngedouw, E. (2014). Seeds of dystopia: Post-politics and the return of the political. In J. Wilson & E. Swyngedouw (Eds.), Spaces of depoliticisation, spectres of radical politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  131. Wolf, M. (2015). The shifts and the shocks: What we have learned—And have still to learn—From the financial crisis. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  132. World Economic Forum. (2012). Global risks 2012 (7th ed.). Retrieved July 24, 2018, from
  133. World Economic Forum. (2017). The global risks report 2017 (12th ed.). Retrieved July 24, 2018, from
  134. World Economic Forum. (2018). The global risks report 2018 (13th ed.). Retrieved July 24, 2018, from
  135. World Trade Organization. (2008). World trade report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  136. World Trade Organization. (2013). World trade report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  137. World Trade Organization. (2017). World trade report. Retrieved September 13, 2018, from
  138. Zizek, S. (2002). Did somebody say totalitarianism? Five interventions in the (mis)use of a notion. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  139. Zolo, D. (2001). The ‘Singapore model’: Democracy, communication, and globalization. In K. Nash & A. Scott (Eds.), The Blackwell companion to political sociology. Cambridge: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social and Cultural StudiesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations