From the Tyranny of the Neoliberal Individual to Neoliberal Populism.

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Neoliberal ideology relies on a libertarian conception of both the individual and liberty. It is grounded in a conservative understanding of the extra-social source of political order and a conservative tendency to situate individuals in concrete groups. On the basis of these understandings, neoliberal ideology views public restrictions on individual liberty – issuing from a collective, homogeneous, undifferentiated person (‘the people’) or as a collection of distinct individuals pursuing a common end – as intrinsically and inherently constituting despotism. Neoliberalism removes the concept of ‘the people’ from its ideological corpus and prioritizes individual personal interests via the unrestricted enjoyment of individual liberty.
However, this libertarian conception of individual liberty in fact entails the political tyranny of the individual, undermining any reasonable defence of individual liberty under freely willed public laws. Moreover, the neoliberal conception of the individual and liberty is not incompatible with the concept of the people. Nor does this notion necessarily entail despotism. Neoliberal populism retains the people as a core concept while cloaking its members in the neoliberal conception of the individual. Liberalism understands the concept of the people as a collection of individuals who do not dissociate their personal well-being from the well-being of others, pursued under freely willed public laws.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Political Ideologies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2021


  • Despotism
  • Individual
  • Liberalism
  • Liberty
  • The people
  • Neoliberal populism
  • Neoliberalism


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