Neoliberalism and Military Regimes – A Follow-Up

To follow today’s earlier post on Friedrich Hayek and the Pinochet Regime, Corey Robin adds even more evidence of just how inextricable the ties between neoliberalism and restrictions on democracy in favor of unfettered capitalism. His new post includes favorable quotations regarding apartheid-era South Africa from Hayek, as well as quotations from Ludwig von Mieses, who was also a member of the Austrian school, a severe economic liberal, and a major influence among today’s libertarian movement in the US, and who generally praised Fascism for its refusal to completely break with liberalism (in contrast to Soviet Russia). Perhaps the best summarization/giveaway of neoliberalism’s distaste for political democracy comes from a Hayek quote regarding Margaret Thatcher’s England:

If Mrs. Thatcher said that free choice is to be exercised more in the market place than in the ballot box, she has merely uttered the truism that the first is indispensable for individual freedom, while the second is not.

As Robin points out:

That statement is certainly in keeping with much of what Hayek wrote throughout his career, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him state quite so pungently his belief that capitalism is more important to freedom than democracy.

Indeed, and that point cannot be stressed strongly or regularly enough. Chile, Apartheid-era South Africa, Fascist Europe, even Thatcher’s England – in every case, neoliberal theorists favored heavy-handed right-wing governments that regularly violated human rights, so long as they adopted some semblance of neoliberalism. In applied theory, neoliberalism has no room for human rights or for political democracy.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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