Keywords:Gramsci, Neoliberalism, Interregnum, Illiberal democracy, Restoration
In a recent contribution Hendrikse (2018) has coined the concept of neo-illiberalism to capture mainstreaming of illiberal doctrines among neoliberal elites, thereby signifying a “mutation and restoration of transatlantic neoliberalism.” After a critical appraisal of his concept, this essay argues that it is too early to claim that neoliberalism is mutated and suggests that the present conjuncture can better be termed ill-neoliberal instead. Following several scholars who have argued that we have arrived at an interregnum, I argue, by also applying a Gramscian framework, that neoliberalism is increasingly malfunctioning, “ill” or even dying, while something new is yet to be born. Unlike most Gramscian reasoning, however, I do not regard the rise of Trump or the European far right as “morbid symptoms”, but as attempted remedies for neoliberalism. In this “restoration perspective” neoliberal elites, somewhat reluctantly, welcome illiberal actors and doctrines in an effort to keep existing hierarchies in place, or to even restore old ones. This transformation in the West towards illiberalism differs, then, from the emerging (and already) illiberal or authoritarian world powers such as China who increasingly rely on an ever-growing private economy and can therefore more rightfully be considered “neo-illiberal” (cf. Aiyar 2016). Whether such powers will be able to install a new (global) order depends foremost on the ability of the atlantic heartlands to overcome neoliberalism.
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Copyright (c) 2021 M. Jouke Huijzer
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