The Neoliberal Emperor has No Clothes: Long Live the Emperor

  • Jane KelseyEmail author


Long before the global financial crisis Frank Stilwell was urging the left to develop and debate alternatives to neoliberalism. The post-2007 crisis prompted claims, including from former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, that neoliberalism had failed. For a fleeting optimistic moment the mantra of TINA—there is no alternative—seemed vulnerable. Instead, the neoliberal/economic rationalist agenda has been resuscitated with a vengeance in many countries. There has been particular complacency that Australia and New Zealand came through the global financial crisis relatively unscathed and there is no need to rethink the neoliberal model of the past three decades. This chapter examines the reasons for the resilience of neoliberalism and the obstacles to a socially just alternative. It assumes the inter-relationship of financialisation, as the prevailing mode of accumulation, and neoliberalism as the regime that advances, sustains and rescues it. It argues that neoliberalsim has become deeply embedded in Australia and New Zealand through an integrated and mutually regime of meta-regulation, which includes enforceable international treaty reinforcing obligations. Importantly, however, that regime takes different forms in different countries, which affects the prospects for escaping the neoliberal paradigm at a time of crisis. The chapter compares Australia’s more institutionalised and pragmatic approach to New Zealand’s reliance on legislative fiat and contract and concludes, counter-intuitively, that neoliberalism is more deeply embedded in Australia than New Zealand. However, the future directions of both countries are deeply inter-related. To break through this barrier requires, amongst other preconditions, a comprehensive counter-strategy to analyse, expose and replace the regime of embedded neoliberalism.


Monetary Policy Public Choice Global Financial Crisis North American Free Trade Agreement Productivity Commission 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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