This page written circa 5 October, 2023.
There is a huge literature defining and discussing neoliberalism. I regard neoliberalism as having destroyed my universities, many universities, especially in Australia and New Zealand. I cannot say to what extent it is responsible for the global economic squeeze, probably less than simple overpopulation. In any case, it is not helping the world recover. Why then is neoliberalism so ascendant?
Robin Hahnel's Myths of Neoliberalism
he identifies a dozen myths.
In her book Bullshit Towers Margaret Sims dedicates a heavily-referenced chapter to defining neoliberalism.
In simpler terms, I see two mechanisms as responsible for neoliberalism's failure.
The first is that it treats everything as a business, expecting competition and greed to power a successful outcome. This fails for the simple reason that many things cannot operate under a business model: For example, in the case of university, it is unclear who might be the customer---student, employer, or government; In the case of entities responsible for provision of vital resources, such as water, the business imperative comes with too short an event horizon, a view that stops just a short way into the future.
The second is that neoliberalism accepts that everyone has equal opportunity, but that all are not equal, and the better examples should be rewarded proportionally. This fails miserably because we have no decent way to assess worth. As US president Rutherford Hayes (1822--1893) said "The unrestricted competition so commonly advocated does not leave us the survival of the fittest. The unscrupulous succeed best...". Take a look at world leaders: Gone are quality world leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Angela Merkel, Bob Hawke, and king Hussein of Jordan; neoliberals climbing the pole brought us the lowlights of recent times... Donald Trump, Liz Truss, and Scott Morrison.
Reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Elon Musk has been enlightening and astonishing. Can he be an erratic arsehole? Yes, but he seeks to do such enormous good. Like Elon Musk I have a "libertarian streak born of [...] natural resistance to regulations and rules." We have a lot in common, but Elon is far more extreme. I do like one of his quotes: "The only rules are the ones dictated by the laws of physics. Everything else is a recommendation." He encourages people to question and think... except when he is telling them what to do, because he has discovered that he is usually right. I am reminded of Johan's T-shirt that read "To keep things simple, can we just assume I am right?"
I rate Elonism better than neoliberalism, but it can burn people out. Few employees survive the demands and chewing outs for a long time. Nevertheless Elon sure does get things done, with his mixture of intensity, scepticism, energy, logic, disregard for convention, and despite seriously affronting people with his forthright manner and lack of tact. That last is something else we have in common. Herewith an apology to all the people I may have offended over the years. I meant no ill, and I am sorry.