Neoliberalism involves significant state interventions in the economic, social, and cultural spheres—but not in the way embraced by classic liberals and socialists (external planning and administration); neoliberalism instead bases its legitimation on the myth that institutions that escape the rigors of the market and competition induce a new serfdom. This article examines, through the writings of Jean Baudrillard on the cultural logics of neoliberalism as implosion, transpoliticization, and catastrophe, the thesis that neoliberalism marks not the high point of capitalism but the crucial break with capitalism, one that produces a new and ironic totalitarianism of means not ends and a new kind of serfdom not envisaged by neoliberals. The article suggests, however, that Baudrillard’s theorizing occludes important aspects of neoliberalism.
The Cultural Logics of Neoliberalism: Baudrillard’s Account
Mike Gane was educated at Leicester University and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is professor emeritus at Loughborough University. His publications include Jean Baudrillard: In Radical Uncertainty (2000), French Social Theory (2003), and Auguste Comte (2006).