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Where Did Neoliberalism Come From and How Did It Become So Influential? Gary Gerstle

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Gary Gerstle

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Political historian Gary Gerstle looks at the rise and fall of neoliberalism and the lessons for political movements today.

Political historian Gary Gerstle looks at the rise and fall of neoliberalism and the lessons for political movements today.

The epochal shift toward neoliberalism that began in the United States and Great Britain in the late 1970s fundamentally changed the world. Today, the word ‘neoliberal’ is often used to condemn a broad swath of policies, from prizing free market principles over people to advancing privatisation programs in developing nations around the world.

In The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order, Gary Gerstle engages with the full contours of neoliberalism: the fusing of ideas of deregulation with personal freedoms, open borders with cosmopolitanism, and globalisation with the promise of increased prosperity for all.

In this discussion with Andrew Kelly, Gerstle looks at how this worldview emerged in America and grew to dominate the world; how it was facilitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its communist allies; the nature of political order – how it is established and becomes embedded; and why and how President Clinton followed Ronald Reagan to create the full triumph of neoliberalism. They also discuss the neoliberal order’s fall, originating in the failed reconstruction of Iraq and Great Recession of the Bush years and culminating in the rise of Trump and a reinvigorated Bernie Sanders-led American left in the 2010s. Finally, they look at what the rise and fall of neoliberalism means for political movements today.

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Gary Gerstle’s The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era is published by Oxford University Press. Buy a copy online from our partners Waterstones.

Gary Gerstle

Gary Gerstle is Paul Mellon Professor of American History Emeritus and Paul Mellon Director of Research at the University of Cambridge. He is the author and editor of more than ten books, including two prizewinners, America Crucible (2017) and Liberty and Coercion (2015). He is a Guardian columnist and has also written for the Atlantic Monthly, the New StatesmanDissentThe Nation, and Die Zeit, among others. He frequently appears on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, ITV 4, Talking Politics, and NPR.

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