The blog, Artisans for a New Humanity, argues that the usual framing of neoliberalism as a coherent project is wrong:
Rather, I am tempted to follow Foucault’s characterisation of ‘neoliberal’ in his 1979 Collège lectures as denoting a modern art of government that allows for the strategic coordination of multiple points of power in apparently liberal capitalist societies:
Il s’agit au contraire d’obtenir une société indexée non pas sur la marchandise et sur l’uniformité de la marchandise, mais sur la multiplicité et la différenciation des entreprises. … Société d’entreprise et société judiciaire, société encadrée par une multiplicité d’institutions judiciaires, ce sont les deux faces d’un même phénomène.
[It involves, on the contrary, obtaining a society that is not orientated towards the commodity and the uniformity of the commodity, but towards the multiplicity and differentiation of enterprises...An enterprise society and a judicial society, a society orientated towards the enterprise and a society framed by a multiplicity of judicial institutions, are two faces of a single phenomenon. Birth of Biopolitics, pp. 149-150. Trans: Graham Burchell]
What this means therefore is that:
by targeting neoliberalism as the Big Enemy, we attack a phantastic entity. What exists is often a pragmatic and impure concatenation of “neoliberal” rhetoric (from Hayek, Friedman, etc) with a mish-mash of instutitional and cultural path dependencies that produce “actually existing neoliberalism”. This why I prefer the term ‘neoliberal’ over ‘neoliberalism‘: it is one paradigm of state policymaking for dealing with global capitalism… We all believe that liberal capitalism is the shiz, the only problem is how to manage it – neoliberal or third-way social democracy.Is there a second way?