From Le Hub/The Climate Justice Organizing HUB
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Neoliberalism "reduces the state to a handmaiden of transnational capital. In pursuing the relentless privatization of the commons, its policies inevitably spark popular discontent." -Firoze Manji, Beautiful Trouble. [1] Neoliberalism emerged as a set of global policies implemented by the Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US. 

Neoliberal policies are based on the creation of an environment conducive to the free market, i.e. low state intervention in the economy. Examples include corporate privatization and cuts in social protection policies. Under neoliberal policies, each person is considered an independent entrepreneur who is responsible for managing their capital. [2]

How does neoliberalism work?

Capital, under capitalism, is concentrated. A few hundred corporations control almost every aspect of our economies. Capitalists respond to the falling rate of profit through accumulation by dispossession (credit, property and stock markets). The outcome is governments that are more accountable to corporations, banks, and financial institutions than they are to citizens. Neoliberalism claims to resolve crises by subjecting all aspects of life to the free market. 

Consequences of neoliberalism

Privatizing public services

  • Under neoliberalism, public services deteriorate from a lack of funding. Soon they are sold off cheaply to the private sector. [3]
  • The state becomes prohibited from investing in social infrastructure (health, education, transport,  telecommunications etc.) which are managed by corporations for profit. [4]

Over-extraction of natural resources

  • Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties which incorporate offshore tribunals. This allows corporations to press for the removal of social and environmental protections. [5]


  • In the majority world, the state is barred from subsidizing agricultural production (unlike in Europe and the US). Tariff barriers that protect national economies are removed, rights to natural resources are auctioned off at lower cost, and taxes are cut. The result is wealth inequality and public debt. [6]
  • Small loan schemes devastate the lives of millions of people living in poverty. See this example on India's crisis.

If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to

Creative commons.png
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Back to Homepage