Queiroz, Regina Maria da Cruz. “From the tyranny of the neoliberal individual to neoliberal populism.” Journal of Political Ideologies (2021): 1-22.
Neoliberalism 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 tendency to situate individuals in concrete groups. Crucially, it views public restrictions on individual liberty – issuing from a collective, homogeneous person (‘the people’) – as inherently despotic. Neoliberalism thus excludes the concept of ‘the people’ from its ideological corpus and prioritizes individual personal interests.
In this article, I argue that individual liberty does not prevent the political tyranny of the individual and is in fact compatible with the concept of the people. As I show, neoliberal populism retains ‘the people’ as a core concept while cloaking its members in the neoliberal conception of the individual, while liberalism understands the people as a collection of individuals who associate their personal well-being with that of others, pursued under freely willed public laws.