Earlier this morning (Thursday, November 18, 2021), I presented a paper entitled “Reallocation: Neo-liberal Scripts and the Transformation of European Capitalism and Democracy” for an online conference organized by the Cluster of Excellence: “Contestations of the Liberal Script (Scripts).” The event took place as part of a book project, The Liberal Scripts at the Beginning of the 21st Century (Tanja Börzel, Johannes Gerschewski, and Michael Zürn, eds.) to be submitted to Oxford University Press.
In this paper, I talk about the resilience of neo-liberal ideas since the 1980s until the Covid-19 pandemic, and their impact on capitalist structures, institutions, and policies. I argue that neo-liberalism, focused on promoting ‘less state to free up the markets,’ has dramatically transformed democratic capitalism in ways that have increased inequalities and led to a democratic backlash with the rise of populism. But the responses to Covid-19 in Europe and the US suggest at least a pause to neo-liberalism, if not its demise, with the shift to an emphasis on sustainable and equitable growth with a renewed role for the state.