OK, yet another good definition of neoliberalism. This one comes from George Caffentzis, in his piece (credited to Midnight Notes), called Respect Your Enemies–The First Rule of Peace: An Essay Addressed to the U.S. Anti-War Movement. George says the following of neoliberalism:
We are told that Communism collapsed in 1989, but many have argued
that the political economy of post-WWII capitalism, Keynesianism,
collapsed a decade before to be replaced by a system that was called
at first Thatcherism and Reaganism, and later neoliberalism and/or
globalization. This system claimed that the basic institution of
modern society ought to be the Market not the State, and that the best
form of all social interactions is the commodity form. This conception
of social life had a great propaganda triumph with the dissolution of
the Soviet Union and the Eastern European socialist bloc. More
importantly, it set into motion a remarkable shift in the economic
policies of most Third World countries (under the name of Structural
Adjustment Policies) that opened them to foreign investment, lower
tariffs, and unrestricted movement of money across their borders.
Finally, it undermined the guarantees of subsistence (early
retirement, unemployment benefits, health care, free education, etc.)
that the working class in Western Europe and North America had won in
a century of struggle (Midnight Notes, 1992).
The early 1990s was a remarkable period of triumph for neoliberalism
and globalization. Never before had the economic policies of the
planet been so homogenous, while institutions like the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization were
given the financial and legal power to keep the governments of the
planet true to the rules of the neoliberal global economy.
Up until July 1997, the supporters of this political economy seemed
invincible. Then, the “Asian Financial Crisis” struck. Ever since,
there have been breathtaking reversals that have put neoliberalism
into question more rapidly than the rapid pace of its triumphs. We
need not detail the recent stock market bubble burstings, the
recessions, the financial system collapses, the dramatic devaluations,
and the dot.com fiascoes. They constitute an international crisis of
neoliberalism and globalization — but not simply because the 1990s
globalization boom ended in the “loss” of trillions of dollars in a
very short time.
That’s a much more concise history than I gave. Read the rest of the article if you’re curious.