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Core Themes and Concepts: Neoliberalism, Colonialism, and Globalization. July 11 th 2007. Neoliberalism: A global ideology.

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Core themes and concepts neoliberalism colonialism and globalization

Core Themes and Concepts: Neoliberalism, Colonialism, and Globalization.

July 11th 2007

Neoliberalism a global ideology

Neoliberalism: A global ideology

  • Neoliberalism: A political and economic ideology that attempts to improve human well-being by promoting individual self-interest; it advocates for the withdrawal of government interventions in the economy (such as tariff and quotas, but also government services); it strives for the free movement of goods, services, people, and money.

The origins of neoliberalism

The Origins of Neoliberalism

  • The theoretical foundations of the ideology were first developed by economists at Chicago, such as Milton Friedman, and Austria, such as Frederick Von Hayek.

  • Politically, neoliberalism became a global force under Ronald Reagan (US) and Margaret Thatcher (UK) around 1980.

The stated purpose of neoliberalism

The Stated Purpose of Neoliberalism

  • Neoliberal ideology attempts to improve the well-being of the earth’s population.

    • How is well-being measured?

      • Increased per capita GDP. Why is this metric problematic?

      • Utility and increased consumption. Why is this problematic?

      • Other forms of well-being that are not examined under this ideology. Human Development Index.

Human development index

Human Development Index

The effects of neoliberalism

The Effects of Neoliberalism

  • Neoliberal policies have led to dramatic increases in wealth accumulation. However, this increase in wealth has been highly concentrated.

    • Since the late 1970s CEOs have gone from making 25 times more than their average employee to 400 times more.

    • The income gap between rich countries and poor countries has grown dramatically.

How were neoliberal policies spread to the developing world

How were neoliberal policies spread to the developing world?

  • The Washington Consensus:

    • The US government

    • the World Bank

    • the International Monetary Fund

    • World Trade Organization

  • Structural Adjustment: The case of Mexico, 1982.

  • Who wins and who losses?



  • European colonialism: “The practice of taking over the human and natural resources of often distant places in order to produce wealth for Europe” (p. 11)

  • Colonialism dramatically transformed the lives and landscapes of both the colonized regions and the colonial metropoles.

    • E.g. Black tea plantations and English tea time.

    • European colonialism did not formally end until the 1970’s with the decolonization of Africa.

Colonialism and imagined geographies

Colonialism and Imagined Geographies

  • Many of the contemporary political boundaries we see on the map today are the direct result of political negotiations and the use of force that occurred during the colonial era.

    • Few of the world’s political boundaries reflect pre-colonial ethnic and/or cultural groupings.

    • The impact of this arbitrary division of the world’s surface into nation-states continues to be felt today: ethnic conflict, immigration, nationalist movements, and “terrorism”.

Colonialism and racism

Colonialism and Racism

  • Colonial expansion into the tropical regions of the world was justified in part by the “White Man’s Burden”: It was believed that the wisdom of the Enlightenment and European technological superiority was absent in the tropical regions of the world. It was therefore the duty of the European powers to “save the savages from their own irrationality and backwardness”

Colonialism and the global economy

Colonialism and the global economy

  • Colonies generally served as sources of raw materials and natural resources for the colonial powers.

  • Colonial powers had the technological capability to transform raw materials into industrially produced consumer goods.

  • Colonies would export cheap raw materials and import expensive industrial goods.

  • This pattern of “uneven terms of trade” continues into the present day: e.g. chocolate



  • “The growth of interregional and worldwide linkages and the changes they are bringing about” (GL-4)

  • Group exercise:

    • What has fostered the growth of interregional and worldwide linkages?

    • What sorts of changes are these linkages bringing about?

    • How does neoliberalism and colonialism contribute to the process of globalization?

Next lecture

Next Lecture

  • 7/12 South America: Political economic change and changing environmental relationships pp. 107-111 pp. 118-125 pp. 127-129pp. 137-143

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