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23/09/2018 research seminar

Neoliberal resilience, democracy and development: Lessons from Latin America and Eastern Europe

Aldo Madariaga (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas Mexico City)

Discussant: Anna Ząbkowicz (Jagiellonian University)

Abstract

This book studies the ability of neoliberalism to survive constant challenges and powerful alternatives, i.e. its resilience, studying the trajectory of four Latin American and Eastern European countries: Argentina, Chile, Estonia and Poland. The book provides two arguments: 1) neoliberalism should be understood not just as an economic policy regime, but as a political project. This implies that for understanding neoliberalism’s resilience it is not enough to look at patterns of support and opposition to neoliberal policies by different societal actors; it is crucial to look at how neoliberalism transforms the very bases of social and political organization of societies; 2) that neoliberalism increases its chances of survival by protecting itself from democracy. Three mechanisms are analyzed: empowering neoliberal business elites through privatization (“support creation”); reducing political competition through non-representative political institutions (“opposition blockade”); and reducing policy influence by withdrawing key policy domains from partisan influence (“constitutionalized neoliberalism”). More generally, the book provides insights into the relation between the resilience of neoliberalism, the future of democratic capitalism, and the development prospects of less advanced economies.