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The Neoliberal Paradox

Ray Kiely

This ambitious work provides a history and critique of neoliberalism, both as a body of ideas and as a political practice. It is an original and compelling contribution to the neoliberalism debate.
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Chapter 5: Neoliberal theory: the core ideas

Ray Kiely


This chapter examines in more depth the key arguments made by neoliberals. In particular, four key themes are identified and presented. First, the question of the individual and freedom. Second, the question of the limits of state power, intervention and the importance of the rule of law. Third, the question of how to limit the concentration of power in modern societies, in which some concentrations of power are acceptable and some are not. Fourth, the question of money and inflation. Finally, the conclusion to the chapter briefly examines some of the internal tensions within neoliberal thought, through a brief focus on Hayek’s distinction between spontaneous and constructed orders, and it is suggested that neoliberalism is itself an unavoidably rationalist, designed, project, an argument already implied in the previous chapters. However, at the same time, neoliberalism rejects rationalism, and while this might undermine its intellectual consistency, it is also a sign of its adaptability.

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