'This Is Neoliberalism' Review
Jordan Levi
by Jordan Levi
1 min read



This Youtube documentary covers some of the prominent economists and writers behind the rise of our current economic orthodoxy, being neoliberalism. “Fish are the last to discover water,” as they say, so I think this development is very important for radicals of every stripe to understand in order to recognize its “common sense” arguments as soon as they’re deployed and get an idea of how astroturf movements like this could develop in the future. The documentary’s split into five parts and clocks in at just over three hours long altogether, but I’m sure there’ll be more parts added over time since part five still doesn’t fully get into the roles played in its ascendance by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher or their successors, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

The documentary mainly focuses on: the period following World War I; the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression; the economic reforms of FDR and Clement Attlee; World War II; and the stagflation of the 1970’s. Most people know there were around 3 decades of unprecedented prosperity immediately following WWII, but I don’t usually hear it mentioned that this was brought about by a very different economic paradigm which preceded our era, called Keynesianism. This era was heavily influenced by the work of John Maynard Keynes and marked by a focus on government intervention, as opposed to the individualism and free markets of the classical liberal era immediately preceding it. As the theories of Keynesian economics came into question in the 70’s, defenders of classical liberalism – such as Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman – simultaneously grew to prominence, along with their associated organizations.

These economists first got to test their ideas, with disastrous results, in Chile, after the military coup of Augusto Pinochet. Even so, the conservative parties of the US and the UK fully embraced the framework of neoliberalism in the 80’s, and even the liberal parties did so in the 90’s, leaving little in the way of this new economic consensus of deregulation and austerity. With inequality and tensions reaching a boiling point following the 2008 recession, mass protests such as the Occupy movement may later be seen as some of the first death throes signaling the end of neoliberalism’s reign. I’m excited to see how they cover its development in the last four decades following the 70’s, but everyone should definitely check out what they’ve got so far in the meantime.

Watch now at https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/this-is-neoliberalism/!

Originally published at https://wspus.org/2021/01/second-issue-of-world-socialist/.