More on framing.
Social Europe Journal
What We Need To Learn From Neoliberal Discourse
Marc Saxer | Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Bangkok office
See also Vivien A. Schmidt and Mark Thatcher, Why Are Neo-liberal Ideas So Resilient?
Neo-liberalism entails belief in competitive markets enhanced by global free trade and capital mobility, backed up by a pro-market, limited state that promotes labor market flexibility and seeks to reduce welfare dependence while marketizing the provision of public goods. The watchwords for such neo-liberalism are liberalization, privatization, deregulation, and delegation to non-majoritarian institutions such as ‘independent’ regulatory agencies and central banks. The touchstones highlight the importance of individual responsibility, the value of competition, and the centrality of market allocation. The neo-liberal mantra presents the state as the perennial problem, the market as the solution – even today, despite the fact that the crisis was caused by the markets, not the state.
So why, in light of the crisis, has there been no major shift in ideas, either back to the neo-Keynesianism that brought the postwar ‘Golden Era’ or forward to something new? How do we explain the fact that neo-liberalism continues to permeate how people think and talk about state and market? We propose five lines of analysis to explain such resilience: the flexibility of neo-liberalism’s core principles; the gaps between neo-liberal rhetoric and reality; the strength of neo-liberal discourse in debates; the power of interests in the strategic use of ideas; and the force of institutions in the embedding of neo-liberal ideas.